About the song
If you are a fan of classic rock, you have probably heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. It is a haunting ballad that reflects on the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. But do you know the story behind this song? How did it come to be written and recorded by a band known for their hard rock and progressive sound? Here is an introduction and a brief history of this iconic song.
“Dust in the Wind” was written by Kerry Livgren, the guitarist and keyboardist of Kansas. He came up with the melody as a fingerpicking exercise, but his wife Vicci encouraged him to add lyrics to it. Livgren was inspired by a book of Native American poetry that he had read, which contained the line “for all we are is dust in the wind”. He also drew from his own spiritual quest and his interest in Eastern philosophy. He wrote the lyrics in about 10 minutes, expressing his realization that material things and worldly achievements are meaningless in the face of mortality.
Livgren was not sure if his bandmates would like the song, since it was very different from their usual style. He played it for them on an acoustic guitar, expecting them to reject it. To his surprise, they loved it and wanted to record it for their next album, Point of Know Return. The song was recorded in July 1977 at Woodland Studios in Nashville, with Jeff Glixman as the producer. It featured Livgren on acoustic guitar, Steve Walsh on vocals and keyboards, Robby Steinhardt on violin and vocals, Rich Williams on electric guitar, Dave Hope on bass, and Phil Ehart on percussion. The song also included a cello section arranged by Toye LaRocca.
The song was released as a single in January 1978, and became a huge hit for Kansas. It reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it their only top ten single in the US. It also charted in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several European countries. The song was certified gold by the RIAA for selling over one million copies, and later certified triple platinum for over three million digital downloads. The song was praised by critics and fans alike for its poetic lyrics, beautiful melody, and emotional performance. It has been covered by many artists over the years, such as Sarah Brightman, Scorpions, Guns N’ Roses, Garth Brooks, and Disturbed.
“Dust in the Wind” is widely considered to be one of the best songs of all time, and one of the most influential songs in rock history. It has been featured in many movies, TV shows, books, and video games, such as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Old School, Highlander, Supernatural, Watchmen, Guitar Hero World Tour, and Rock Band 4. It has also been used as a source of inspiration and reflection for many people who face challenges or losses in life. The song is a timeless reminder that we are all connected by our common humanity and our shared destiny.