Top 10 Kansas Songs

Kansas Songs

Photo: By DanielleCannova (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Our Top 10 Kansas Songs list looks at a band that had tremendous success on a mass cultural level in the mid-1970s. Kansas was one of the few rock bands in classic rock history that enjoyed commercial airplay while maintaining its progressive rock edge and the respect of its sophisticated hardcore fans. That commercial success was due to AM and FM radio’s acceptance of one of the most intensely performed and well-written progressive rock songs ever.

“Carry On My Wayward Son”  was an outlier in classic rock history. Most songs that heavy don’t become massive pop hits. Of course, it had been done before. Yes had an enormous hit with “Roundabout,” Foghat with “Slow Ride,” Edgar Winter with “Frankenstein,”  and above all, Led Zeppelin with “Stairway To Heaven.” Nonetheless, there was a difference between AM and FM hits. Heavy rock usually did not transcend well on AM radio. The song “Carry On Wayward Son” was so strong that it crossed all formats.

The band followed up the song “Carry On Wayward Son” with the Point of Know Return album that further continued their success. The album’s first single, “Point of Know Return,” was a hit. Still, the release of the album’s second single, “Dust in the Wind,” further cemented the band’s golden touch for commercial success juxtaposed against well-written songs of quality and substance.

The band could never follow up on the commercial success that the Leftoverture and Point of Know Return albums garnished. Like any other long-lasting classic rock band, the band also underwent personal changes over the years. The most notable addition to the band was the addition of Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morse. Even though commercial success faded away, the band released quality albums. From the band’s debut album entitled Kansas in 1974 to their most recent recording, The Absence of Presence, Kansas released sixteen studio albums, seven live albums, and nine compilation albums.

This Top 10 Kansas songs list is an attempt to list some of their biggest hits and most loved songs. Of course, it’s subjective, but it’s also designed to turn people on to the band who may not be familiar with the group’s catalog.

# 10 – Dust In The Wind

Starting our Top 10 Kansas songs list is one of the band’s biggest hits. The song’s huge commercial success in 1978 is why we have included the song on our top 10 Kansas songs list. “Dust in the Wind,” is the band’s only top 10 hit. It was released on the Point of Know Return album.

# 9 – Silhouettes In Disguise

In 1986, Steve Morse joined the band Kansas. The legendary guitarist for the Dixie Dregs would also later join the band Deep Purple in the 1990s. However, Steve Morse’s joining Kansas resulted in a very different sounding band. Nonetheless, Steve Morse’s brilliant and exciting guitar playing made for a great rock record that sounds better 30 years later than it did upon its first release.

# 8 – I Can Fly

You might not have heard of this great Kansas song in 1995 because bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden got all the press and airplay during the grunge era. However, Kansas released a great rock album in 1995 that deserves to be mentioned here. If you have not heard Freaks of Nature, it’s a fabulous listen, especially when you realize what was happening in the music business. “I Can Fly” was one of the ultimate progressive rock songs of the 1990s.

# 7 – Song For America

“Song for America” was quintessential Kansas. The title pretty much sums it all up. It is simply stunning music that is timeless. The album was released in 1975. One can hear in the music the potential that was about to be released two years later when the band Kansas released the  Leftoverture album.

# 6 – Reason To Be

“Reason to Be” was a heartwarming, beautiful song by Kansas that never gained the popularity it deserved. The song was released on the band’s Monolith album. The record was released in 1979. The band sounds a little like Yes in the song’s introduction. This was the sound of a new style of progressive rock in the late 1970s that relied heavily on sweeter-sounding melodies. It was a concept that the band Asia utilized with great success just a couple of years later.

# 5 – Miracles Out Of Nowhere

We could have easily composed a top 10 Kansas songs list with just tracks from their masterpiece of an album Leftoverture. Every track on the album was brilliantly written, produced and performed. The album still sounds as exciting today as it did forty years ago. The Leftoverture album featured Steve Walsh on lead and backing vocals plus keyboards, Kerry Livgren on lead and rhythm guitars and keyboards, Robby Steinhardt on violin, lead and backing vocals, Rich Williams on lead and rhythm guitars, Dave Hope on bass guitar and Phil Ehart on drums.

The Leftoverture album hit number five on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. It was their highest charting album at the time only to be eclipsed the following year by Point Of No Return which peaked at number four. Still, Leftoverture remains their biggest selling album of the band’s career selling over five million copies in the United States alone.

# 4 – Point Of Know Return

One can hear the band’s search to continue its commercial success on the opening track to the band’s album Point of Know Return. It’s a great track that crossed the line between commercialism and deep musical substance at the time. Nonetheless, the song was popular, and its role as the follow-up to “Carry On Wayward Son” is significant enough to warrant it a top spot on our top 10 Kansas songs list.

# 3 – Icarus (Born on Wings of Steel)

The great track” Icarus (Born on Wings of Steel)” was released on the band’s Masque album, which was released in 1975. It was the band’s third album in two years. The band on the second album featured Steve Walsh on lead and backing vocals plus keyboards, Kerry Livgren on lead and rhythm guitars and keyboards, Robby Steinhardt on violin, lead and backing vocals, Rich Williams on lead and rhythm guitars, Dave Hope on bass guitar and Phil Ehart on drums.

# 2 – Carry On Wayward Son

“Carry On Wayward Son” is the opening track of the band’s mighty Leftoverture album. This is easily the band’s signature song. Kerry Livgren wrote it. The song just missed the Billboard Top 10 as it peaked at number eleven. It was the song that turned most rock fans onto the band. It continues to do so. Everything about this song screams classic! The song’s opening guitar lick that resonates throughout the track is one of classic rock history’s most legendary guitar licks. The vocals on this are out of this world.

# 1 – The Wall

It was tough to pick any other Kansas song besides “Carry On Wayward Son” to land in the number one spot on a top 10 Kansas songs list. The popularity of the song goes beyond the band Kansas. It was a decade-defining rock song. That said, we simply like the album’s “The Wall” song better. That’s why these lists are subjective and that’s why we have fun doing them. The musical opening of the track is just incredibly powerful. It sounds like the end of an epic adventure movie. It then transcends into a mysterious dut between Kerry Livgren on keyboards and Steve Walsh on vocals. It’s not long until the rest of the band joins this magnificent musical work of art.

Updated March 19, 2024

Top 10 Kansas Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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