Dust in the Wind

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This article is about the 1977 song by Kansas. For the 1986 movie by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, see Dust in the Wind (film). For the Todd Rundgren song, see Something/Anything?
"Dust in the Wind"
Single by Kansas
from the album Point of Know Return
B-side "Paradox"
Released January 16, 1978
Recorded June–July 1977
Genre Soft rock, acoustic rock, folk[1]
Length 3:27
Label Kirshner
Writer(s) Kerry Livgren
Producer(s) Jeff Glixman, Kansas
Kansas singles chronology
"Point of Know Return"
"Dust in the Wind"
"Portrait (He Knew)"
Point of Know Return track listing

"Dust in the Wind" is a song recorded by American progressive rock band Kansas and 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 Kansas's only top ten Billboard Hot 100 charting single. The 45-rpm single was certified Gold for sales of one million units by the RIAA shortly after the height of its popularity as a hit single. More than 25 years later, the RIAA certified Gold the digital download format of the song, Kansas' only single to do so certified as of September 17, 2008.[2]

Background and writing[edit]

A last-minute addition to the track lineup for Point of Know Return, "Dust in the Wind" would also be its greatest success.[citation needed]

The guitar line for this song was written by Kerry Livgren as a finger exercise for learning fingerpicking. His wife, Vicci, heard what he was doing, remarked that the melody was nice, and encouraged him to write lyrics for it.[3] Livgren was unsure whether his fellow band members would like it, since it was a departure from their signature style. However he did offer it to them, and the song was accepted and then recorded.[3]

The title of the song is a Bible reference, paraphrasing Ecclesiastes:[4]

"Dust in the Wind" was one of Kansas's first acoustic tracks; its slow melancholy melody and philosophical lyrics differ from their other hits such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Point of Know Return". A meditation on mortality and the inevitability of death, the lyrical theme bears a striking resemblance to the well-known biblical passage Genesis 3:19 ("...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."), as well as to the famous opening lines of the Japanese war epic The Tale of the Heike ("...the mighty 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."[3]

The guitar track comes from two guitarists playing six-string guitars in unison, one in standard tuning and the other in Nashville tuning, to create a chimy sound similar to a twelve-string guitar.[citation needed] The instrumental bridge contains a distinctive melodic line and harmony for violin and viola.[citation needed]

Kansas also released a live version of the song on their album Two for the Show and a symphonic version on Always Never the Same.[citation needed]


Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[6] 52
Belgian VRT Top 30[7] 29
Canadian RPM Top 100[8] 3
Canadian RPM Top Adult Contemporary[9] 1
Dutch Singles Chart[10] 19
French Singles Chart[11] 22
New Zealand Singles Chart[12] 36
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 6
U.S. Cashbox Top 100[13] 3

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles[14] 24
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 39
U.S. Cashbox Top 100[15] 37


Country Provider Certification
Canada[16] CRIA Gold
United States[17] RIAA Gold


  • It was featured in the 1979 movie, Promises in the Dark.
  • In the 1989 movie, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted encounter a language barrier when they meet the Greek philosopher, Socrates. With Bill's suggestion, Ted 'philosophises' that "All we are, is dust in the wind," while making pertinent gestures.
  • It was featured in the 2003 movie Old School where it was sung by Will Ferrell's character at Blue's funeral, and at the end of the movie Blue sang the song while playing a piano in the sky.
  • It was also featured in the Highlander episode "The Darkness" when looking back at the death of character Tessa Noel.
  • Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the song was placed on the list of songs deemed 'lyrically questionable' distributed by Clear Channel.
  • It was shown as number 7 on VH1's 40 Greatest Softsational Soft Rock Songs of All Time.
  • The song appears on the game Karaoke Revolution Party.
  • Used in the film Final Destination 5, in the beginning of the film when Sam is getting the signs of his premonition and near the end of the film, when he is on the ill-fated flight 180, when he sees the fasten your seat-belts sign flicker.
  • Featured in the 2016 Korean movie Pure Love multiple times, including at Soo Ok's funeral.

Cover versions[edit]

  • A parody titled "Dust Up His Nose" (a song about a PCP addict), was sung by Larry Rand in 1978 and played often on the Dr. Demento Radio Show.[18]
  • Kansas ex-lead singer John Elefante covers "Dust in the Wind" in his 2010 album 3 with band Mastedon. It also features the song's author and founding Kansas member Kerry Livgren on electric guitar.
  • The hard rock band Scorpions covered the song on their 2001 live concert album Acoustica.
  • Former New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams recorded a jazz version of "Dust in the Wind" for his 2003 album The Journey Within.
  • Sarah Brightman recorded a version with some African elements added on her album Eden.
  • Daughter Darling recorded a version which was included in their 2002 album "Sweet Shadows".


  1. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016. 
  2. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - November 10, 2015". Riaa.com. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  3. ^ a b c "In the Studio with Point of Know Return, featuring Kansas". In The Studio. 7 September 1992. Archived from the original on 28 December 2004. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "A Once Wayward Son Carries On". Christianity Today. 2006-03-06. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  5. ^ "Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind". Biblehub.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  7. ^ "Radio2 top 30: 7 november 2015". Radio2.be. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  8. ^ "Dust in the Wind in Canadian Charts". Collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Dust in the Wind in Canadian Adult Contemporary Charts". Collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Discografie Kansas". Dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Archived from the original on January 15, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Infodisc : Tous les Titres de chaque Artiste". Archived from the original on June 14, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Discography Kansas". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on January 15, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  15. ^ [2][dead link]
  16. ^ [3][dead link]
  17. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - November 10, 2015". Riaa.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  18. ^ "Song Details : Dust Up His Nose". Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 

External links[edit]