The Meaning of "Man in the Mirror"
“Gotta make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right”
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
No message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change
You gotta get it right, while you got the time
‘Cause when you close your heart
Then you close your mind”
Two of my favorite passages from “Man in the Mirror,” (one from the beginning and one from the end) strangely not one of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, yet one of his most enduring songs. It has become almost an anthem of his passing, perhaps a bigger song for him posthumously than it was during his life.
Looking at the song in full context, with all of the lyrics, it’s plain to see it is about charitable work, feeding those without food, finding homes for the homeless.
However, it is also a song about personal redemption. The first part of the song includes and admission of laziness/apathy/wrongdoing. By the end, it is a powerful, loud statement of making an impact on the world.
Suffice it to say, by the time “Bad” was released, Michael Jackson had made his mark on the world.
But you can look at this in another way: the past is entirely in the past and doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t currently doing something. Perhaps the song is about drive to succeed, always building upon what you have already achieved.
If you are constantly looking to improve, you HAVE to look at yourself in the mirror and know that what you did before was OK, but that you have so much more inside of you. If you know in your heart that you have more to give, than your mind will find a way to make it work.
The song stresses personal responsibility. You can’t do everything yourself…but you can control your actions and handle your business. And if everyone does that, then we’ll all be better off, right?
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