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Song Analysis: "Man in the Mirror"

By: Carla And Stelina

Stella V.

on 17 May 2017

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Transcript of Song Analysis: "Man in the Mirror"

Song Analysis: "Man in the Mirror"
As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin’ my mind
I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs
A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind ya’ know
’Cause they got nowhere to go
That’s why I want you to know
I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right…
The song we will be analyzing today is “Man in the Mirror”, sung by Michael Jackson who is recognized today as “The King of Pop”. It was part of one of his best-selling albums, Bad, and one of two songs that was not written by him. It was originally written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard. It was also produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones.
To us, this song is talking about trying to make a difference in the world, starting with yourself. You must be aware of problems and take action for them, and believe that you are able to do it. It is because of how people think that they cannot change anything, that they cannot do anything in the first place. You must put faith in yourself to be able to make a positive impact. Only then can you make a change.
The beginning of the song starts with an motivating statement, with the singer expressing their hope to better the world, and in the process, themselves.
These lyrics use imagery to depict the moments in which the person encounters the poor, starving children, and ignores them. It is almost as if they are complaining about the cold, even when they have something to protect them against it. The lines, “Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs,” show them reflecting over his actions, knowing that they should have reached out and helped them.
By: Carla & Stelina
I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It’s time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they’re not alone?
A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern on the wind, ya’ see
’Cause they got no place to be
That’s why I’m starting with me
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
This verse refers to how he was raised in a well-off environment, where there was enough money to pay for necessities, as well as buy goods, without ever thinking about those struggling financially. “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love,” can mean that his parents loved him in a way that never truly taught him the importance of helping the more unfortunate, or to be selfless, to put others before himself.
“A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top And a one man’s soul” can be talking about taking the positive things in life for granted, with the “broken bottle top” representing them enjoying life’s luxuries, such as alcohol. It can also be taken as them kind of “drinking away the summer”. The lines, “They follow each other on the wind ya’ know ’Cause they got nowhere to go,” indicate that because people don’t really know what to do, they go with the crowd, believing they cannot make a difference in the world since they have no initiative.

Thank you for listening to our presentation.
(You gotta get it right, while you got the time)
(’Cause when you close your heart)
You can’t close your...your mind!
(Then you close your...mind!)
Citation Page:
“A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart and a washed-out dream (Washed-out dream)” can refer to someone losing people they held dearly in their hearts. This leads them to lose their ambitions and hopes for the future. The next part, “They follow the pattern on the wind, ya’ see ’Cause they got no place to be That’s why I’m starting with me,” is similar to the earlier line, “They follow each other on the wind ya’ know,”, so we think they have similar meanings. People follow the crowd, yet it can also mean that people are repeating history, deciding not to act on something, possibly even hoping for others to start something instead.
Just lift yourself
You know
You’ve gotta stop it. Yourself!
(Yeah! - Make that change!)
I’ve got to make that change, today!
(Man in the mirror)
You got to
You got to not let yourself... brother...
(Yeah! - Make that change)
You know - I’ve got to get that man, that man...
(Man in the mirror)
You’ve got to
You’ve got to move! Come on! Come on!
You got to...
Stand up! Stand up! Stand up!
(Yeah! - Make that change)
Stand up and lift yourself, now!
(Man in the mirror)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
(Yeah! - Make that change)
Gonna make that change...come on!
You know it!
You know it!
You know it!
You know...
Make that change.
The chorus talks about the main message of the song: creating a change, starting with yourself. The lyrics are about looking at who you really are as a person, and trying to better yourself, to become more aware of what you can do to leave a positive effect in the world, even if it is small.
This song utilizes a lot of repetition, especially during the chorus and end, which we believe helps to emphasize the core theme of the song. At the end, Michael is prompting others to stand up for the things they believe in, and to get to their “man in the mirror”.
This part of the song is encouraging the listeners to act upon themselves while they are still inspired, because afterwards, they may return to their narrow and self-centered view of themselves and the world. The lyrics, “(’Cause when you close your heart) You can’t close your...your mind! (Then you close your...mind!)”, are saying that when you do not open your heart towards others, you can end up having a negative, limited mindset.
Creation of the Song:
When Michael Jackson was creating this album in 1987, he wanted to include a song that would bring positivity to the world. After receiving help from songwriters in his publishing company, they produced “Man In The Mirror”. One of the writers, Siedah Garrett, had not made a song before when she was invited to help. She pitched in her idea, after collaborating with her co-partner, Glen Ballard, and the song was accepted.
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