Registration with

register

lost password recovery

recover my password

sign in

sign in

Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the Newsletter

A.T.W.A. by System of a Down

Album: ToxicityReleased: 2001
  • The name stands for Air Trees Water Animals, and is about Charles Manson's environmental movement of the same name.

    One should be cautious not to read too much into Manson's motives. His main drive was to have a pack of sexually enslaved women at his disposal in the remote desert, funded by theft and robbery and enabled by drugs used for brainwashing. The rest was props: Including his music and his preaching about race relations and environmentalism. Manson did little in his lifetime to demonstrate genuine belief in any altruistic philosophy; he did much to demonstrate that he simply learned what slogan the hippies were chanting lately and then mimicked their calls to attract women who identified as hippies. The trend to try to whitewash his reputation speaks volumes about the Occupy Wall Street / Anonymous movement, heirs to the values-weakened side of Flower Power.
  • System guitarist Daron Malakian has an interest in Manson and wrote some of the lyrics. Charles Manson was a songwriter and environmentalist, but that stuff usually gets trumped by the fact that he's a murderer. Malakian believes the media has not portrayed all sides of Manson, and feels that some of his ideas were actually very good, especially his thoughts on the environment.
  • "Air, Trees, Water, Animals" is also a nod to mythological foursomes, be they the four elements, the four humors, the four axis of personality types (Myers-Briggs, Keirsey, Big Five, etc.), the four blood types in Japanese personality typing, the four seasons in the Zodiac, four corners of pyramids, and so on. The number four is given huge significance in worldwide religions as well, symbolizing the trinity plus one (mankind).
or Register to post comments

Comments: 63

Is it a problem to ask, if you guys could tell me what the system of a down song "darts" means cause I'm not sure.Jason - Conneticut
i always thought atwa stood for "all the world around me". i dont know why.Sup Dogg - Portland, Bangladesh
S.O.A.D. have always said that they want people to have 'their own' meanings for their songsSally - Radelaide, Australia
i was told that this and roulete weher the 2 love songs that soad wrote, i disagree tho. i think Vincinity of obsinity is closer to a love song than this. (BaNaNa bAnAnA BaNaNa TeRaKKoTa tErAkkOtA pIe)Joe - El Paso, Tx
Thins song points tht out in a great way. never guessed it would be about manson thoughLorraine Davis - Greeley, Co
Have you guys ever actually done any research on Manson, or do you just not like him because thats whats expected out of us. Im not saying I'm a fan of Manson, but some of the s--t ppl say about others is ridiculous. Charles manson was an environmentalist who formed a cult and THEY killed people. We dont know if he killed anyone personally, you have to look at his intentions too. Im just saying, dont assume what you think you know is trueLorraine Davis - Greeley, Co
charles manson is not related to marilyn manson, in fact, thats not even his real name. its brian warner. each of the band members of marilyn manson chose the first name of a sex idol, and the last name of a serial killer. except john 5, have no idea where that came from.Alana - Columbus, Ms
All I know is it's about a twisted killer named Charles Manson. I'm guessing he's related to Marilyn Manson. But I'm just guessing so don't go tell your friends that. Oh and I know that A.T.W.A stands for Air Trees Water Animals. I'm guessing that he had something to do with the environment. But I'm also guessing about that so don't go tell your friends that either.lol.Gage - Rome, Ga
i heard it's about jesus.

HEY YOU SEE ME PICTURES CRAZY
he wants people to see him for who he is, not what people say
ALL THE WORLD IVE SEEN BEFORE ME PASSING BY
he watches people not listen to him, even through his travels?
I'VE GOT NOTHING TO GAIN, TO LOSE
he wants to teach people, and he dies for sins because he has nothing to lose
YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT HOW I FEEL I DONT FEEL IT ANYMORE
he's felt the pain of crucifixion and people just watch.
HEY YOU ARE ME NOT SO PRETTY
he's not different than anyone else.
SILENT MY VOICE I'VE GOT NO CHOICE
no one will listen still, and he can't do anything about it.
I DONT SEE/HEAR/SPEAK/FEEL
everything is gone

at least that's what i heard from SOADfans i believe. i thought it was a cool idea.
Iwishiwasserj - Beirut, Lebanon
This is the first System of A Down song that I've ever heard, and it was one of those songs that I really wanted to pay attention to and dwell on. I think that it's about a drug abuser who separates himself from the rest of the world until he sinks into his own little pit of depression. He doesn't want to live out the rest of his life because of how screwed up it's gotten. (System of A Down are amazing, yet I only know one other girl my age who likes them. Sad.)
~~Ta~~
Z - Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Wa
"You don't care about how I feel I don't feel it anymore!"

This refers to Charles Manson, because they never cared on how he feeled about the envirement and only thout of him as a murderer, no more or less.
Joshua - Niagara Falls, Ny
great song and great harmony yes, the fact that itz about charles manson makes it even cooler, but Brian from Canada, itz hey you "and" me not so pretty, as to referring that we don't look good togetherMarcus - Richmond, Va
Brilliant song!! Malakian is twisted and passionate which makes for great music. Fantastic job SOAD!!!Christopher - Rome, Ga
"Hey you, are me, not so pretty...Silent my voice, Ive got no choice"

i believe is refering to charles manson, because he sais when you die your looking at the devil and his face turns to your face and you die.
Brian - Abbotsford, Canada
This song is about getting pissed off by those Anti-Environment act. ATWA! I love it but is short, the shorter the better :)


kristomagno
Kristomagno - Idontknow, Romania
the song is about the way love in any metaphor gets discarded. From the air water trees animals, The voice is simply calling out.Ixeoxi - London, United States
i wrote a paper on y charles manson should be in jil 4 conspercy iinstead but of course noone here no who charles manson is its kinda funnyJessica - Chattanooga, Tn
To be honest, I don't care what the song is about if everyone's just going to argue about it! It's a great song and I think everyone has to find their own meaning for it.Kayley - London
i feel sorry for those who think environmentalists are all good. did u ever hear of the earth liberation front. they burn suv's, ski resorts, homes, and put people's lives in danger all for the good of the environment. they're known as a terrorist organization.Jake - Chicago, Il
I love it when Daron screams "ANYMORE!" It sounds like an impression of Hulk Hogan.Mike - Petersham, Ma
ATWA kicks ass. you know it. i know. we can't really know exactly what it's about because we are not Serj, Daron, Shavo, or John. So there's really no point in argueing over what it is or isn't.

it's just great. let's leave it at that.
Rachel - Hell, Mi
I love this song. I personally think this song's talking about Charles Manson of course. I think it's saying that after this environment that he cared about so much now is wasting away as he sits in prison. "All the world I've seen before me's passin' by." It makes sense...Blake - Hamilton, Oh
this song could be about manson. or it could be about an angry suicidal person. But why can't it be that the song was inspired by Manson but is about a person who is angry and possibly suicidal?Cheri - Redding, Ca
Sorry about the "yeah", I just wanted to see if I could really post. I just written one and it failed to make it to the server.

I wanted to say to Aaron from Gainesille that his counterattack on those who see Manson solely as a murderer, makes his view just as one-sided. For all I care Manson was the founder of enironmentalism, being an environmentalist doesn't justify brutal murders or affiliation with heavy crime. Christoph from Boston already made the clever remark that Hitler was a vegetarian. Wanna stand up for him also?

I do agree with Sam from Tuscaloosa that the verses are written from Manson's perspective. I do think however, that the chorus is about a shared vision. And not one I care a lot about. "You don't care about how I feel"... well that probably applies to most people. But what did you expect? More important: they obviously don't care themselves about how they feel anymore ("I don't feel it anymore"). Well, it's impossible not to feel in a way that things don't affect you anymore, it is a common mechanism though to ignore feelings of pain. This leads to feelings of loneliness and frustration. This frustration can ultimately (but thank God only in rare cases) lead to an anti-social disturbance and the involved criminal behaviour. I think the song is implicitly about Daron's fascination with this cold heartedness. Something I can understand and even feel, but never will be able to appreciate.
Peter - Amsterdam, Netherlands
yeahPeter - Amsterdam, Netherlands
its amazing that people argue over something like this. never once do i hear "Let Manson Out Of Jail" in the song. and yet, i also dont hear "Environment" once in the song, you think it might be just about Manson sitting in jail?Dan - Santa Clarita, Ca
Aaron from Gainesville, I agree with you in every way. Manson had some very good ideas, and I can say I am somewhat credible to say that as I have done some research on him. Sure he killed people, but that doesn't mean he can't change and he doesn't deserve a second chance. Bonnie, put up the thesaurus, you have no idea what you're talking about. People are a problem. "People" are causing wars and killing thousands of innocent human beings. "People" kill, steal, rape, lie, cheat among other things. "People" are a problem, some more than others, Manson was right there, but he didn't deal with these people the right way.Jon - London, England
And all this time i thought A.T.W.A. stood for "As the world adjourns"Tony - Chicago, Il
For you people wanting him out of jail, i'm pretty sure this black guy called 'jesus' killed him,Jimmy - Boone-ish, Nc
All of this debate. Facts are facts. The only reason that Chuckie wasn't charged with the (yes, first hand) murder of Bernard Crowe was that they already got the death penalty on him for the other charges (although those were later commuted). Anyway, according to a friend of mine, Bobby Beausoleil (the man who murdered Gary Hinman), Charlie's method of ordering the murders was to appeal to the devotion of his female followers. Bottom line, if you hire a hitman, you are guilty of first degree murder.Mellissa - Bakersfield, Ca
System of a Down makes my heart grow three times bigger. I have no favorite song(it all slays everyone else) though Deer Dance and ATWA are in my heart. Its all up to the individual interpretation, but this song especially revived my soul because I saw it as a parallel with being hated and mocked in school. Especially when he says "silent my voice, I got no choice All the world I seen before me passing by" Its like people won't listen to you so you just shut up because there's no point. And then you just stand by and watch without participating eventhough you want to. But then you just become jaded and apathetic.---> "I dont see anymor I dont hear anymore I don't speak anymore I don't feel anymore... I don't sleep anymore I don't eat anymore I don't live anymore I don't feel anymore". I saw it more as a 'here is a misunderstood reject who is now emotionless because people are evil and don't care that they've shattered your feelings' type thing. This song (and band) works magic no matter how you look at it and everyone needs to hear it and think about it because there is a lot to learn from it (and music in general). SOAD got me through elementery and high school and I love them forever. (its too bad there aren't more crazy 'bi-polar' bands like this)H - R, Nc
charles manson did to kill
2 people to be exact
all the other dirty work was commited by his followers
George - Longview, Tx
Though Manson didn't murder anyone, he still encouraged other to, which is just as bad in my opinion. I wish Mansons 'Family' had committed their crimes over here in Texas. Our hicks would make sure he got the death penalty.Max - Austin, Tx
Charles Manson didn't actually kill anyone, so technically he's not a murderer.Mike - St Louis, Mo
Personally i think that this song is about him being in love with a girl, and having her not really care about the way he feels. [that would be rather self-explainatory] but the 'i dont eat, i dont sleep [etc]' is about how, when you are in love [or other trauma] you hey depressed, and it it hard to go through dailt life.Nora - Somewhere Not Far From Here, Scotland
I think it's about people not caring about the person withinFatal - Aurora, Co
nobody killed marilyn monroe but herself...sorry, that was just bothering me.

SOAD rules, especially live.
Erica - Toledo, Oh
lol i didnt no he was still alive to be taken out of jail. dude he killed marilyn manroe, and other people, lol and he will one person cuz he thot helter skelter told him too lol "when i get to the bottom i go back to the top of the slide"Greg - Brantford, Canada
I noticed a funny comment: "I looked up Manson on Google". Yeah, that definitely shows the whole picture...
But anyways, I don't know whether Manson had anything to do with those murders, I wasn't there. But the song is a personal opinion, which we all have the right for. It's a great song, and you can't really tell what exactly they meant by the lyrics, after all you can't get into the authors' heads. I have perceptions of some things that seem weird to most, and I write about it to. That's why I accept opinions. If you don't like Manson, just like the song and pretend you don't know what it's about...maybe you really don't.
Faith - So Po, Me
Manson may have had good environmentalist points and all, but that is all meaningless because they had nothing to do with the murders. Manson believed that he was recieving messages through songs by the Beatles, telling him to incite a race war, then hide out and when it was all over, emerge and take over the world. The environment had basically nothing to do with the murders, and thus his views on it should be disregarded when any discussion of the murders takes place. The real travesty about the manson murders comes from the fact that "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles, one of the sweetest hard rock songs ever written, has pretty much been eternally associated with these heinous acts, and thats something it certainly doesn't deserve, because it's a far better(and less violent)song than it will ever get credit for being in the total social view.Zack - Ottawa, Oh
No one here is saying that environmental advice should get Charles Manson out of jail. The song is about how SOAD views Manson and percieves his life to be. Don't butcher the song and assume things. Its a great song. Don't come in here for the sole purpose of calling Manson a murderer. Do the research and get the facts straight.Robbie - London, Canada
yeah manson had good ideas BUT killing bunches of people to get to the end is not right. I think manson DID have lots of good intintions, but that is drowned out by how he tried to acheve the ends.Cole - Greenville, Tx
In addition to the Manson idea, initially i thought it may have been about Lebanese militiamen Alli Atwa, but I think the Manson idea is more plausible.Max - New York, Ny
when Manson was a teenager he went to jail several times and since he suffered abuse from his mother he always wanted to go back so he commited several armed robberies he killed two or three people with a sword but the Tate murders were commited by his cult he had some good ideas but he WAS a sick manMatt Alltop - Monrovia, In
You are all insane. this is about one man's views on a controversial subject. how dare you condemn him. yeah, manson did some atrocious sthit for some not so great reasons, but thats not what this song is about. it's SOAD's interpretation of this man's mind. no one ever, at any point said, "Manson didn't do nothin', let him go." no way, dude. also, art in any medium should never be taken this way. when this was written, he was thinking about manson, but you should look at it in your own perspective.
Manson did and said some terrible things, but he is human, no different from you.
Tormo - Austin, Tx
Mason killed people, thats why hes in jail, just because he has good envirimental adivce doesn't get him a one way ticket out of jail, but SOAD still kicks!Gabriel Maclean - Toronto, Canada
I thought it was about being fed up with the world not listening to your ideas and killing yourself as a result of being shut out from everyone.Ashley - San Bernardino, Ca
Yea, Manson was an environmentalist. And Hitler was a vegetarian. I guess its the thought that counts.Christoph - Boston, Ma
This is a great song, and I looked up Manson on Google. He was a heartless manipulative man who's background (he had an alcoholic mother who disowned him constantly) slaughtered his mind and made him think "Survival of the Fittest". Yes he was an environmentalist, who had good ideas. But Daron has never said he wasn't. Daron wrote this song about how he had good ideas, and how he has lived in prison over half his life. He was a murderer. Nothing changes that. Daron thinks he had good ideas on the environment, and that there is a good side of him, but that's it.Kieran - Eastbourne, England
Oh yeah, more trees are planted everyday than choped down...that's an actual fact. Aaron...hug your trees dude, cause they'll all be here for as long as you live man. Survival of the fittest!!!! Hey! i've got an idea, let's let manson out because he had some good points...we'll forget the fact that he killed people. No big deal, right? HEY!!! you can have good points while in prison. If he had killed someone close to you, all that good point sh*t would go out the f*ckin door bizatch!!!! System of a Down KICKS ASS!!!!!Derrick - Cross Junction, Va
All you people who just blatently yelling out "manson is a murderor." You are the ones thats the problem. You don't think outside that tiny little box, using all the muscles except for the one that counts. There is reason the believe that Manson wasn't even the mastermind behind those murders but rather his 2nd hand Charles Watson. Manson has excellent points but we refuse to look at those because the media has us convinced that everything from him is the words of a lunatic. And hippies, they say the same thing but we call them tree hugging wussies. So I guess wanting to live is being a wuss. I guess wanting the future Earth to be habitible for my children's children is being a wuss. Go ahead and burn that fuel and through out your garbage on the street. Go cut down that 100 year old tree for a couple of weeks of warmth. When there's nothing left to cut down and no more ozone to burn away and men are all dead and no one is here to carry our memories and legacies than guess what. Every person who ever lived, lived in vain.Aaron - Gainesville, Mo
Charles Manson and his groupies were for a fact, gonococcus, panhandling, self-loathing losers who preyed on people who were not. The inviromentalist venue they found to spread their anti-social stance is a sick joke seeings how they were the filthest, crab louse -infested pigs you could ever know. His profound enviromental motto :"F--- people, they are the problem." Wow, let's make a song outta that.Bonnie - San Jose, Ca
I love this song as well. I agree with the song and all of Manson's ideas. I feel sorry for those of you that have only read Vincent Bugliosi's side of the story, which is very one-sided and mostly lies. You should read Nuel Emmons "In His Own Words". This book was written just as Manson told it. I wish you all luck in realizing how amazing Manson is.
Sexy Sadie
Sadie - Sick City, Va
I wasn't aware of this song being about Charles Manson up until today when I was doing some research on him after finding out he was a musician. I do know that this song has always stuck out in my mind, and I've found myself sitting around singing it out of nowhere. The only thing I really interpreted from it was that it was about being looked over by people. But now that I know it's about Charles Manson it makes more sense.Angel - Des Moines, Ia
I recently read the book Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and think that all, every single one, were horrible; I'd have to disagree with Daron and Serj on this one.James - Victoria, Canada
Charles Manson Never actually killed anyone, his "cult" did, sure, but he didn'tSean - Phoenixville, Pa
charles manson is a MURDERER!oh why,oh why does daron want him out of jail?HELTER SKELTER,PIGGIE!Scott Baldwin - Edmonton, Canada
Charles Manson was only portrayed as a violent killer. The media and the public dismissed the fact that he WAS an environmentalist. He loved and respected the air he breathed, the trees that gave oxygen, the water that cleanses all, and the animals that God put on this Earth. We should all be like Charles and take care, respect, and love our ONE AND ONLY EARTH!!!!!Josh - El Paso, Tx
The whole song is sung from the point of view of Charles Manson. "Hey you, see me, pictures crazy" refers to the media's interpretation of Manson, and how he's only seen as a madman murderer. "All the world before me passing by" is him watching life go by, literally, as he spends his life in prison. "I got nothing to gain, to lose" is also referring to his life sentence in prison. "You don't care bout how I feel, I don't feel it anymore" is how if we lose sentiment for other human beings they will also stop feeling. "Hey, you are me, not so pretty" is describing, again, how we only think of him as a murderer and therefore, our impression of him is 'not so pretty'. "Silent my voice, I got no choice" is the simple fact that Charles Manson can't say anything to make anyone feel differently about him or what he did. And then the whole ending "I don't speak/hear/see/eat sleep/feel/live anymore" is just what SOAD imagines Charles Manson's outlook on life is. The whole song is basically saying that if we only focus on one side of a person, we will miss the truly great parts (in this case, Manson's thoughts on the environment and his songwriting). I'm not saying I agree with it, but that's how I see the song.Sam - Tuscaloosa, Al
you have to listen close to "hey you see me pictures crazy all the world i ssen before me passing by i got nothing to gain to lose al the world i seen b4 me passing by you dont care about how i feel i dont feel it anymore hay u r me not so pretty all the world i seen b4 me passing by silent my voice i got no choice all the world i seen b4 me passing by Rep. chorus Bridge i dont see anymor i dont hear anymore i dont speak anymore i dont feel anymore (rep 1st verse and chorus) I dont sleep anymore i dont eat anymore i dont live anymore i dont feel anymore"to figure out the meaning.Scott Baddwin - Edmonton, England
I think it's about being depressed and being sick of the way everything is and after a long time of feeling like that you just stop feeling alive and kill yourself.Samantha - Youngstown, Oh
The best SOAD song, but I thought it was about suicide.Erk - Roswell, Ga
This song is greatNick - Paramus, Nj