The pot’s legal in Colorado but they’re smoking crack in Kansas
Embarrassed by its state’s awkward turn to the right in recent years, beloved 1970s rock band Kansas changed its name to Colorado and announced the release of its newest studio album, Thematterwithkansas, and the opening of its 2015 tour.
“As much as we love our state and have always been proud to bear its name,” the band said in a statement, “we had to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the matter with Kansas?’ and our answer was, ‘Who the hell knows?!” So we moved to Colorado and now we’re a bit to the left of our old state, geographically and politically, but we think our fans will understand.”
In its mid-1970s heyday, Kansas was on the top of the charts with its mix of progressive rock and virtuosic violin playing. Big hits like “Carry On, Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind” helped the band fill arenas as a headline act. In recent years, the band’s popularity has waned and some of the original members, including Kerry Livgren, one of the main songwriters, have left. But several of the band’s original members, including keyboardist Steve Walsh, drummer Phil Ehart, and guitarist Rich Williams, are still in the line-up and eager to get in front of audiences again.
“We haven’t been out there with anything new since Somewhere to Elsewhere, in 2000, and that record was a dud,” says Walsh, “so we’re ready to reconnect with our millions of fans—well, thousands of fans.”
The new album focuses on the political state of affairs in Kansas. The state has historically been a curious mix of progressivism and social conservatism. It was the first state to allow women the right to vote and to institute workers’ compensation. But today the state is notable for its tough laws against abortion, prohibition on gay marriage (later overturned), the removal of evolution from its teaching standards, and sharp program cuts, including the complete elimination of its arts agency.
The band takes on this state of affairs with “Stop Carrying On, Wayward Sons,” the album’s first single.
Stop carrying on, wayward sons
It’s not for you the government is run
You think you’re weary? What do you know?
You won’t be crying when the big guy gets home
Walsh says the album and the single represent a departure for the band, which had been gravitating toward Christian themes in its later years, “and here we’re definitely not turning the other cheek!”
For that reason, the band is a little nervous about how this approach will go over. “If it doesn’t sell well, I don’t know what we’ll do,” says Walsh. “I guess we’ll have to move back to Kansas. Can you say ‘awkward?'”
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