Amazon – Unraveling the Depths of Dislocation and Identity


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for M.I.A.'s Amazon at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Caught in the Currents of Existence: Displacement and M.I.A.
  5. Revolutionary Ruminations: Coupon Clipping and the Call for Change
  6. Tropical Trappings: Imagery of the Exotic as Confinement
  7. The Song’s Pulsing Heart: Hyper-Visibility and Annihilation
  8. Merging Bodies and Blurred Boundaries: A Turn Toward Acceptance?

Lyrics

I was missing in action
On the side of a carton
I was taken in a Datsun
From a street in Acton

I was sipping on a Rubicon
Thinking ’bout where I come
It’s all this for revolution
Cutting up the coupon
Saving for a telephone
Can I call home
Please can I go home

Painted nails, sunsets on horizons
Palm tree silhouette smells amazing
Blindfolds under home made lanterns
Somewhere in the Amazon
They’re holding me ransom

Hello, this is M.I.A.
Could you please
Come get me

Smoking on a Benson
Trying to get me undone
Let me go
I don’t want your attention
Under submission
Out of frustration I’ll do it
I’ll scream for the nation

Painted nails, sunsets on horizons
Palm tree silhouette smells amazing
Blindfolds under home made lanterns
Somewhere in the Amazon
They’re holding me ransom

Hello, this is M.I.A.
Could you please
Come get me

Minutes turned to hours
And became our dates
When we shared raindrops
That turned into lakes
Bodies started merging
And the lines got gray
Now I’m looking at him thinking
Maybe he’s OK

Hello, this is M.I.A.
It’s OK
You forgot me

Full Lyrics

In the world of M.I.A., music is more than just a collection of beats and rhymes; it’s a conduit for deep commentary on global issues, personal narratives, and often, a blend of both. ‘Amazon’ is no exception, finding M.I.A. in a state of literal and metaphorical captivity, weaving her distinctly cosmopolitan tapestry of sounds and stories.

While on the surface, the track may seem shrouded in the enigmatic and the abstract, a closer dissection reveals a layered introspection on themes of alienation, empowerment, and the quest for freedom. Framed in the singer’s characteristic geopolitical awareness, ‘Amazon’ delves into the complexities of modern life and cultural identity.

Caught in the Currents of Existence: Displacement and M.I.A.

M.I.A. opens ‘Amazon’ with potent imagery. The reference to being ‘missing in action’ on the side of a carton juxtaposes the mundane (a milk carton, often used to publicize the missing) with the distress of disappearance. By placing herself in ‘a Datsun from a street in Acton,’ the songstress grounds the feeling of abduction and removal in the concrete, in the very streets of London where her journey once took form.

The lyrics, while ostensibly detailing abduction, also symbolize M.I.A.’s feelings of disconnection from her roots and the sense of being taken from her cultural and emotional home, capturing a struggle familiar to many in diaspora.

Revolutionary Ruminations: Coupon Clipping and the Call for Change

Amidst feelings of alienation, M.I.A. echoes the oft-overlooked aspects of revolution, such as the mundane reality of cutting coupons. This daily act of frugality contrasts sharply with the grand, often romanticized notion of revolt, grounding her struggle in the lived experiences of the economically marginalized. The ‘saving for a telephone’ lines invoke both isolation and the desire to connect, to ‘call home’ and perhaps to rally a forgotten cause.

By emphasizing these details, M.I.A. pulls the listener into a nuanced understanding of rebellion, one that encompasses both the prosaic and the profound, and raises the question of what ‘home’ really means for those scattered by global currents.

Tropical Trappings: Imagery of the Exotic as Confinement

Central to ‘Amazon’ is the trope of exotic beauty turned prison. The ‘painted nails’ and ‘sunsets on horizons’ reflect a paradise that is paradoxically a place of entrapment, ‘holding me ransom.’ The tranquility and allure typically associated with palm trees and sunsets contradict her plea for rescue.

The intentional use of ‘blindfolds under homemade lanterns’ casts a nefarious glow on the otherwise idyllic setting, drawing the listener to understand that what is alluring can also be deceiving, and that the very beauty of the Amazon can shroud deeper, darker themes of captivity and exploitation.

The Song’s Pulsing Heart: Hyper-Visibility and Annihilation

Deep within ‘Amazon’s’ rhythmic beats lies a hidden cry for autonomy against the background of hyper-visibility. As M.I.A. declares herself on a ‘Benson’ (British slang for a cigarette), there is an attempt to dissipate into smoke, to elude the unwanted attention that chains her down: ‘Let me go/I don’t want your attention.’

These lines speak volumes about the tension faced by public figures, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds. The artist is at once the subject of the gaze and the agent of her own story, straddling the fine line between being powerful and powerless in the eyes of a society that both consumes and constrains her.

Merging Bodies and Blurred Boundaries: A Turn Toward Acceptance?

In a turn towards the unexpected, the later verses of ‘Amazon’ contemplate notions of intimacy and acceptance. ‘Minutes turned to hours’ and the imagery of raindrops that ‘turned into lakes’ showcases the melting away of barriers, and a possible reconciliation with that which once imprisoned her.

The sentiment of ‘Now I’m looking at him thinking/Maybe he’s OK’ hints at a transformation of perspective or a truce with one’s captor—whether that captor is a person, a situation, or a societal expectation. It’s the kind of Stockholm syndrome effect contrasting sharply with the earlier pleas for liberation.

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