Meaning of “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

Sure, you’re busy. We get it. You want the quick and dirty on “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. Here’s the deal: The song is all about self-reflection and taking personal responsibility for the issues in the world. Michael’s not blaming anyone else; he’s pointing the finger at himself, literally talking to the “man in the mirror.” The song is a call to action for everyone to take a good look at themselves to make the world a better place. If we want real change, it starts within us.

Are you intrigued? Stick around, we’re diving into the lyrics and the story behind this classic. Trust me, you’ll hear the song differently after this.

“Man in the Mirror” Lyrics Meaning

The song kicks off with the lines, “I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life.” Right off the bat, MJ is setting the stage for a personal transformation. He’s acknowledging that change is tough but vital.

“As I, turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat, this wind is blowin’ my mind.” Here, the winter coat is more than just a piece of clothing. It’s a symbol for emotional armor, shielding himself from the harsh realities around him. Yet, he can’t ignore it anymore; it’s messing with his mind.

“I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat.” Now, it’s not about him. Michael turns our attention to societal issues like poverty and homelessness. He admits that ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. “Who am I, to be blind pretending not to see their needs?”

When he says, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror,” he’s admitting that if he wants these issues addressed, he must first change himself. The mirror isn’t just glass and reflection; it’s introspection, an examination of one’s morals, actions, and responsibilities.

“A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart, and a washed-out dream,” emphasizes that everyone has scars, whether visible or not. The willow, the broken heart, and the washed-out dream are all victims of a society that’s lost its way.

The recurring line, “Take a look at yourself and then make a change,” is the gut punch. MJ is reminding us that we all have a role in making the world a better place, and it starts with looking inward. Don’t blame the system, your parents, or your circumstances. If you want to see change, be the change.

Why Was “Man in the Mirror” Written?

When Michael Jackson released “Man in the Mirror” in 1988, he was at the peak of his career but was also becoming increasingly concerned about social and humanitarian issues. The song was penned by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard, and MJ immediately connected with its powerful message.

At the time, global issues like poverty, racial inequality, and environmental degradation were pressing matters, and they weighed heavy on Michael’s mind. The song is a culmination of these concerns, channeled through personal responsibility. “Man in the Mirror” wasn’t just a pop song; it was an anthem for change, pushing everyone to reflect and act.