Carry On Wayward Son

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Kansas with Jared, Jensen and Misha at Comic-Con 2017.

"Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas is the closest thing Supernatural has to a theme song. It has been embraced by fandom and is usually sung as the final song at karaoke at Supernatural Conventions, and just about any time two of more SPN fans get together!

The song was first used over the montage at the beginning of 1.21 Salvation, it has subsequently been used at the beginning of the finale episodes 2.22 All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two, 3.16 No Rest for the Wicked, 4.22 Lucifer Rising, 5.22 Swan Song, 6.22 The Man Who Knew Too Much, 7.23 Survival of the Fittest, 8.23 Sacrifice, 9.23 Do You Believe in Miracles?, 10.23 Brother's Keeper, 11.23 Alpha and Omega, 12.23 All Along the Watchtower, 13.23 Let the Good Times Roll, 14.20 Moriah and 15.20 Carry On. In the series finale, the song does not play over the beginning of the episode like usual. Instead, it plays over the Impala's radio as Dean drives through Heaven.

It does not appear in The Winchesters, but Jack Kline tells Dean in 1.13 Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye that "after this... it's time to get around to the "there'll be peace when you are done" part of the song," referring to Dean returning to his final rest in Heaven.

Eric Kripke said of the song,

"We had an old jukebox in our basement growing up. I found a song on it that I liked and played a LOT: #CarryOnWaywardSon."

The song was written by band member Kerry Livgren, and originally recorded by Kansas for their 1976 album Leftoverture. Kansas made a documentary about the "song that changed the world."

At Comic-Con 2017 the Supernatural panel in Hall H opened with a live performance of "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas.

"Carry On" in Heaven

Spn finale that wasnt.jpg

The Finale for Supernatural had a different ending planned. One that featured Kansas.. As Andrew Dabb wrote in Supernatural 15 Seasons: The Crew Member's Souvenir:

"Dean was always going to end up in Heaven, and we were always going to see Sam's life in fast-forward, but those final moments were supposed to take place somewhere else. When Bob Singer and I sat down to talk about season 15, and our inevitable end, we came up with something that felt like a fitting version of Sam and Dean's Heaven: all the people the boys had met along the way (or, at least, those we could convince to fly to Vancouver) crowded into a re-built Roadhouse, as the band Kansas played our (official unofficial) theme song: 'Carry on Wayward Son.'"

The shuttering of production in March 2020 due to covid - just as episode 18 was about to be filmed, but a stop to that idea. According to Jensen "they were literally at the airport and some of them were getting on a plane to come to Vancouver when they got called and told, 'Sorry, COVID, we're shutting down.'"

When production resumed in 2020, drastic changes were required due to infection control rules. Andrew Dabb explained:

"We did a rewrite once we knew what our COVID rules were going to be for episodes 19 and 20, and it changed some things, it did. Particularly in episode 20, there were things planned that just aren't feasible anymore. "We were supposed to have a lot of familiar faces come back, and we were going to try to filter them into a montage. It was going to be almost a break from the story and a look at how far we've come—a little tip of the hat to the fans—and we would all be able to celebrate together," he said. "Obviously, we couldn't do that. So that part of the finale episode got nixed. What it did not change was the story or the emotions, or anything else. It changed some of the set dressing, it changed some of the circumstances, but it didn't change where we were going or, honestly, in a large way, how we got there. So, in that way, I feel very lucky."

"Carry On" Walker

In the episode 2.14 No Such Thing As Fair Play, which was directed by Jensen, Kansas plays "Carry On" at a concert during the Annual Ranger Community Fair.

Jensen talks about how the Kansas appearance in Walker came about:

"They were like, 'We're writing that script right now, but we just found out Kansas is actually going to be in Austin playing one night and it happens to be three days before you start working.' So I was in prep and basically, they broke the main unit early on the previous episode so that they could do a full company move over to the Moody Theater in downtown Austin and we could set up and shoot, essentially, a rock concert. So I shot that while in prep, and then a couple days later we started rolling on principle photography for me."

Lyrics

Carry On Wayward Son


Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreamin',
I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely
means that I don't know
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but
I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry,
Don't you cry no more,

No more

– Kerry Livgren, Kansas

Covers

For Supernatural: The Anime Series, a cover version of "Carry On Wayward Son" by Mark Ishikawa plays over the end credits of every episode. You can watch the end credits here.

In 2016, it was performed by the artist Iacovos with the music video featuring a Supernatural themed sketch.

For 10.05 Fan Fiction, a cover of "Carry On Wayward Son" was produced by series composer Jay Gruska, featuring Vivien Amour, Alyssa Lynch, Kelli Ogmundson, Katie Sarife, Rachel Warkentin & Nina Winkler on vocals. The song would again be used in "The Road So Far" montage for 10.23 Brother's Keeper, before kicking into the original version of the song. The song was originally available to purchase on Warner Bros' in-house music label website Watertower Music. Now, you can find the song on music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.

For the series finale, "Carry On Wayward Son" was used in an ending montage showing Dean driving through Heaven and Sam living his life on earth. The song eventually shifts to a cover version by the group Neoni and is played as Sam eventually passed away from old age and is reunited with Dean in Heaven. You can listen to Neoni's cover here.

External links