KANSAS released their single “Dust in the Wind” on January 16, 1978. The song was written by band member Kerry Livgren, first released on their 1977 album Point of Know Return.

The song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of April 22, 1978, making it the only Kansas song to chart in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The 45-rpm single was certified Gold for sales of one million units by the RIAA shortly after the peak of its popularity as a hit single. More than 25 years later, the RIAA certified the digital download format Gold of the song, the only Kansas-owned song to be certified on September 17, 2008.

The guitar line for the song was written by Kerry Livgren as a finger exercise to learn fingerpicking. His wife, Vicci, heard what he was doing, said that the melody was good, and encouraged him to write lyrics for it.

Livgren wasn’t sure if his fellow band members would like it, as it was different from their trademark style. After he played the demo for the band, there was a “stunned silence” and the band asked him, “Kerry, where is this song from?”

The song title is a Biblical reference, paraphrasing Ecclesiastes: “I pondered everything that man has accomplished on earth, and I concluded: All that he has accomplished is as vain as chasing the wind.”

A meditation on mortality and the inevitability of death, the lyrical theme bears a striking resemblance to the famous Biblical passages, Genesis 3:19 (“…to dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.”) and Ecclesiastes 3:20 (All go to one place. All from dust, and to dust all return.) As well as to the famous opening line from the Japanese war epic The Tale of the Heike (“…the great fall at last, and they are as dust before the wind.”) and from a book of Native American poetry, which includes the line “for all we are is dust in the wind.”

Kansas also released a live version of this song on the album Two for the Show and a symphonic version on Always Never the Same.

Band Personnel: – Steve Walsh – lead vocals, Kerry Livgren – acoustic guitar, Robby Steinhardt – violin, viola, backing and harmony vocals, Rich Williams – acoustic guitar, Phil Ehart – percussion. [sources/photo special]