Don’t Carry the World Upon Your Shoulder

Paul McCartney was offering words of encouragement to John Lennon’s son Julian after his mom and dad got divorced.  Atlas was the strongest of all the Titans, and he was an instigator in the rebellion against the Greek god Zeus or the Roman god Jupiter.  Atlas sided with his brother Menoetius and he was made the leader of the Titans, mostly because of his war skills, his great strength and his endurance.  The Titan Prometheus who changed sides in this war, knew what Jupiter had in mind for the defeated Titans after the war, and he informed him that he would have a difficult time keeping his amazingly strong brother Atlas in the underworld.  He also told Jupiter that Atlas had claustrophobia, and that he would probably consent to doing anything if that would keep him from being locked up.  Jupiter realized that if Atlas was kept in a confined space, that this would trigger panic attacks and he would act up, so he dished out a special punishment for him.

Jupiter decided not to send him to Tartarus with the rest of his relatives, but instead he received a very harsh punishment and was ordered to stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold the heavens on his shoulders, to keep the heavens and earth apart.  Atlas was condemned to this special punishment because all the fighting between the Titans and the Olympians had shaken the heavens so much that they were out of balance and it looked like they might crash into the earth.  Jupiter wanted to prevent the recurrence of a primeval union between Terra and Caelus, because he thought that if this primordial embrace resumed, that it could produce new powerful descendants that he might have to fight against.  Atlas became the eternal caretaker of the axis between heavens and earth and it was his job to turn heaven on its axis, which causes the stars to revolve.  Jupiter thought Atlas would have his hands full holding up the heavens and this would prevent him from getting involved in another uprising.

The negro spiritual composed by a slave named Wallace Wallis in the 19th century, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ is a Christian hymn that combined spiritual belief with the hardships of daily life as a slave in the United States.  The lyrics “coming for to carry me home”, do not symbolize a victory over an opponent, but they are more likely about the sweet release of death.  This could also be seen as coming to take a slave to heaven, or a slave escaping to freedom in the North or in Canada.

The band Kansas wrote a song called ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ which was an autobiographical song about their time together looking for truth and meaning.  It was an urge to carry on and continue the search as the wayward son, who felt alienated from the ultimate reality, and yet kept striving to find a purpose.  In 1976, when the lead singer and keyboard player for Kansas, Steve Walsh, began suffering from writer’s block, the lead guitar player Kerry Livgren became their lyricist.  One day while sitting at his parent’s home, in front of the family organ, Livgren composed the music for ‘Carry On Wayward Son’, which was partially about himself and the struggles and pressures he was facing at the time when the band’s career was on the line.

One morning Stephen Stills woke up and he knew that his girl was really gone.  It was a new day, a new way, and he had new eyes to see the dawn.  He told her to go her way, and he would go his and carry on.  The sky was clearing and the night had cried enough.  The sun comes to the world to soften up.  Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice but to carry on.  The fortunes of fables are able to sing the song.  Now witness the quickness with which we get along.  To sing the blues you’ve got to live the dues and carry on.  Carry on, love is coming, love is coming to us all.  Where are you going now my love?  Where will you be tomorrow?  Will you bring me happiness?  Will you bring me sorrow?

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver #262 – Carry hosted by Michael.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Carry the World Upon Your Shoulder

  1. Great expose on the prompt Jim. When I was growing up one of the first albums I recall my older brother having was DeJuVu on which the song “Carry on” featured and was played a lot…thanks for sharing so much with us this week.

    Liked by 1 person

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