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"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

A last-minute addition to the track lineup for Point of Know Return, "Dust in the Wind" would also be its greatest success.Script error: No such module "Unsubst".

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. After he played the demo for the band, there was a "stunned silence" and the band asked him, "Kerry, where has this been?" In spite of Livgren's reservations, the rest of the band knew it was going to be a hit.[4][3]

The title of the song is a Bible reference, paraphrasing Ecclesiastes:[5]

I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded:

Everything he has accomplished is futile — like chasing the wind![6]

"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.Script error: No such module "Unsubst". The instrumental bridge contains a distinctive melodic line and harmony for violin and viola.Script error: No such module "Unsubst".

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.Script error: No such module "Unsubst".


Chart performance

Chart (1978) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[7] 52
Belgian VRT Top 30[8] 29
Canadian RPM Top 100[9] 3
Canadian RPM Top Adult Contemporary[10] 1
Dutch Singles Chart[11] 19
French Singles Chart[12] 22
New Zealand Singles Chart[13] 36
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 6 Radio Faro Aviateca Guatemala 1977 Top Selection 5
U.S. Cashbox Top 100[14] 3

Year-end charts

Chart (1978) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles[15] 24
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 39
U.S. Cashbox Top 100[16] 37


Country Provider Certification
Canada[17] CRIA Gold
United States[18] 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 Season Two episode of Highlander entitled "The Darkness" when looking back at the death of character Tessa Noel, the song was also played in the Season Two episode "Unholy Alliance, Part Two" in the scene where Duncan MacLeod arrives back in Paris and walks up to his barge, remembering 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.


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  4. Kansas - We Knew It Was Going to Be a Hit, interview (posted to YouTube on Jan 28, 2015)
    Kerry Livgren tells the story of how Dust In The Wind was written, and how the band reacted to hearing it for the first time.
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External links


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