What does ATWA mean?

System of a Down: ATWA Meaning

Album cover for ATWA album cover

ATWA Lyrics

Hey you, see me, pictures crazy
All the world I’ve seen before me passing by
I’ve got nothing, to gain, to lose
All the world I’ve seen before me passing by
You don’t care about how I feel
I don’t feel it any more
You don’t care about how I...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 6th 2007 !⃝

    If you look at the song lyrics, try to think about who might be talking.

    Perhaps the world? How we're killing it? Or maybe even God.

    "Hey you, see me, pictures crazy...."

    Could that be referring to pictures of the God in cathedrals and churches? The crazy part being how we've pictured him all along? Or maybe the world. Pictures of our world, and how amazed some people are with those sort of pictures. Or, how absolutely crazy all the pictures we're seeing now are. Our forests: gone. Our air and water: polluted. Our animals: dying and becoming extinct.

    Don't forget. The title of the song IS Air, Trees, Water, Animals. Everything that makes up the Earth (aside from earth itself). We're killing it all:

    Air: We're polluting.
    Trees: We're cutting down to no end.
    Water: We're polluting it, and running out of fresh drinking water.
    Animals: We're killing them directly, and indirectly (such as garbage and pollution).

    "You don't care about how I feel."

    We no longer even think twice when we cut a forest down, kill an animal, drink a glass of water, or work in a factory.

    "Hey you, are me, not so pretty..."

    We're not good people for what we've done on this world. That we can accept. And because of what we've done, our water is no longer clear, air in no longer pure, forests are becoming landscapes of stumps, and animals are just...dying. They are no longer "pretty".

    "Silent my voice, I've got no choice."

    In everything we do everyday, ATWA (Air, Trees, Water, Animals), have no choice in the matter. We just kill them all mercilessly. And we never hear anything about it from them, because they cannot speak.


    "All the world I've seen before me passing by...."

    They've all been on this Earth longer than us. This can simply be a statement implying that.

    "I've got, nothing, to gain, to lose...."

    They don't. I believe this line came after the one mentioned just above, because they've been on this world longer than us, and they've always survived what has happened on the planet. Either that, or because we're killing the planet itself, no matter what we do, they die anyway, so what's the point?

    That's my interpretation. Long, I know. But...hey.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Sep 17th 2008 !⃝

    "Our songs mean nothing except for what they mean to you" - Daron Malakian (System of a Down)


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 18th 2007 !⃝

    ok I think I have it figured out....this might sound crazy but maybe serj is singing in the place of our earth....what else has seen the whole entire world pass before its eyes......i think its talkin about all the pollution and shit.....we don't care about it anymore.....in one of their live shows serj was talking about polluting the earth and he seemed pretty passionate about it so I think that's why they wrote this song

  4. anonymous
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    Sep 27th 2013 !⃝

    I've actually always thought this song was about a girl.
    Mainly a break up.
    Just kind of what I think.

  5. anonymous
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    Jul 17th 2013 !⃝

    Jesus fucking christ, what the hell is wrong with u people? Serj can spout rhetoric and wax lyrical with the best of them and i love his music...But what the hell guys?!? I have just read the interpretations (on one of my all time favourite songs) and you guys need to chill out and stop the back and forth argueing, how do u think wars start? By tiny little men with big opinions (always on others, they tend to see themselves as prophets think they are benevolent) and they bicker over trivial matters until it escalates...oil ring any bells america?S.O.A.D have a facebook page, why not just ask them what they're songs mean? Or am i just another idiot for using my common sense? USE YOUR BRAINS GUYS. S.O.A.D songs truly are beautiful to each individual but they are tempered with the pain Serj feels when he looks at the world and sees the suffering we cause. A.T.W.A is about Charles Manson's perspective twisted as it may be from his vantage point, serj is trying to help others to see things from the perspective of his fellow man whether he is African, Jewish, English, German (yes even those guys) and to use a little empathy and compassion for those who have not been so fortunate in life as most of us are. Rant over.

    Thanks for listening. Dave

  6. anonymous
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    Nov 15th 2012 !⃝

    i know this song is suppose to mean air, trees,water, animals so about nature but to me i means how he loved a girl and wanted her so much and the person stoped loving the guy and he has allot of feelings for the girl and he is finally deciding to move on because its making him mad

  7. anonymous
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    Nov 12th 2012 !⃝

    Dudes...its about charles manson. We see him in pictures(tv) as crazy, the man has nothing to gain or lose in his cage so he has no feelings, and the world as he knew it has passed away before his eyes: a feeling alot of us can relate to...thats all

  8. anonymous
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    Nov 10th 2012 !⃝

    I feel like it completely misses the idea of atwa. there is a charles manson song called ATWA and it is not even remotely like this. As for the system version I'm not particularly a fan, mostly because i feel like it misses the point of ATWA (as a pseudo belief system or whatever) and what charlie says.
    Although with some of the other interpretations I may be wrong. However I really don't think it is.

  9. anonymous
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    Jul 28th 2012 !⃝

    Maybe about is homeland

  10. anonymous
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    Mar 19th 2012 !⃝

    In my opinion this song has multiple meanings. I do agree with first interpretation but I think there is also another which is correct.
    You must remember that band members are foreigners in US. Their families came to US not because they wanted but because they had to run from their homes in middle east and I do think this song is more about them seen by Us nationals. They are a metal band (pictures crazy) and they are not home in LA but in exodus.
    So based on that I think its more about they struggle in being accepted in their new home.

  11. anonymous
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    Jan 21st 2012 !⃝

    Air,Trees,Water, Animals. i didnt get this at first. but when you look at the lyrics its pretty clear. it either God (because of the line- 'hey you, are me..' and and since we believe that we've been created in the image of god) talking to us about how we are desecrating the world, but we look at pictures and say what a lovely world we live in, when we are tinting it every second.
    it can be the world, talking to its inhabitants and telling them that its nice to look at pictures, but in reality im not so pretty anymore, because you are destroying me every second.

  12. anonymous
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    Jan 4th 2012 !⃝

    Daron said on an interview that the sog was based on something Charles Manson wrote..

  13. anonymous
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    Nov 13th 2011 !⃝

    A.ir_ T.rees_ W.ater_ A.nimals

  14. anonymous
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    Jun 5th 2011 !⃝

    I agree with a lot of what the top comment said about who's point of view it is, apart from it being about God.
    I think that the song is from the point of view of the indigenous populace from a lot of the places that have ben tainted by the hands of "The White Man".
    e.g. Australia, America basically everywhere in the world

  15. anonymous
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    May 7th 2011 !⃝

    ATWA stands for air,trees,water,animals. This meaning was created by Charles Manson, this is a song from his perspective. He is sitting in a prison cell watching the world go by. Daron Malakian is highly interested in Charles Manson so to anybody who says this song inst about him their complete idiots

  16. anonymous
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    May 1st 2011 !⃝

    Well, if you think about it quite well, it can sound like it's about breaking up with someone or one side love (how it says the person doesn't care and 'i' don't feel it now as well as "i've got nothing to gain, to lose" and "i don't see,hear,speak,sleep,eat,live" as how someone can just stop living out of sadness)

  17. anonymous
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    Jan 26th 2011 !⃝

    I might be restating some things that have already been posted on this site, but....ATWA (Air Trees Water Animals) was first termed by Charles Manson. The song directly applies to Charles Manson (and could be interpreted as being from Charlie's perspective):
    "Hey you, see me, pictures crazy" This is so straightforward, as the media have done nothing but paint Charlie as a crazy, evil brainwashing cult leader for decades. The picture shown most frequently is the one that was on the cover of Life, which is the one where his eyes have a strange look to them.
    "All the world I've seen before me passing by" He's spent the majority of his life in lockup, even as a juvenile. Life passed him by. He hasn't gotten to experience life as other people do. He was a petty criminal as a kid. He was thrown away by his mother and by society and no one seemed to care.
    "I've got nothing, to gain, to lose." This is obvious.
    "You don't care about how I feel, I don't feel it anymore" Again, straightforward. No one has really cared how he felt, so he stopped feeling. (If you read "Manson in his own words", by Nuel Emmons...a part comes to mind where the first time his mom left him at one of these juvenile places, he was very hurt. The next time, he was numb to the pain/bitter.)
    "Hey you, are me, not so pretty" This could be how he says whatever you are, he is a reflection of. This could be that society isn't pretty and he is a product or a reflection of that.
    "Silent my voice, I've got no choice" What I immediately think of with this is simply how interviewers never let him speak. They never let him finish a sentence. Instead they act like Wayne Gale from Natural Born Killers and purposely say things that are misleading to give the audience a certain inaccurate idea. His voice hasn't mattered to people, they just care about confirming what they already think about him. He has not had a choice in this. Also he has said before that he's not even allowed to live in the desert, and has been used his whole life. He can't help what the media has created - they have effectively created the "myth" of Charles Manson. This line could also refer to the trial/courtroom.
    I think that's all the main lines from the song I wanted to address.
    I hope someone reads this =)

  18. anonymous
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    Jan 25th 2011 !⃝

    For what I have heard this is a song based on the a poem from Charles Manson and that ATWA stand for All The World Around

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