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Past in the Rear-View Mirror
(Photos by Flickr users Big Grey Mare, Icky Pic)

With no way to deal with the past, I kept my eyes on the road, off the rear view mirror and the roadkill behind me. I chased lesser mysteries, other people's crimes.
Max Payne, Max Payne 2

Using the rear-view mirror of a car as a metaphor for reflecting upon the past, or leaving something behind. Common in pop music, but also occurs in fiction. If someone removes their rear view mirror or refuses to look at it, that's a metaphor for leaving their past behind and looking to the future. (Warning: do not attempt to remove your rear-view mirror to attain personal growth).

For references to the warning "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear", see Closer Than They Appear. A popular choice for a Breakup Song or other "goodbye song." Don't be surprised to hear a rhyme with "nearer" or "clearer."


  • See the quotes page for longer specific examples.
  • Meat Loaf - "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are"
  • Nick Lachey - "What's Left of Me" ("Watch my life / Pass me by / In the rear view mirror")
  • Jo Dee Messina - "Bye Bye" ("And a rear view mirror torn off / Cause I ain't ever looking back")
  • Julie Roberts - "Break Down Here": a Dual Meaning Chorus - the first chorus has a literal rear view mirror, and the second one a metaphorical one.
  • Doug Supernaw - "She Never Looks Back"
  • Pearl Jam - "Rearviewmirror"
  • Alicia Keys - "Rear View Mirror"
  • Mac Davis - "Texas in My Rear View Mirror"
  • Bobby Valentino - "Rearview"
  • Jet Black Stare - "Rear View Mirror"
Tired of living life through the rearview mirror
  • Grandaddy - "Rear View Mirror"
Rear view mirror / Don't wanna live life looking through a—
  • Rapper Big Pooh - "Rearview Mirror"
I'm seeing life in my rear view mirror / And I recognise that people do change
  • Rebecca Lynn Howard - "Tennessee in My Windshield" (and Kentucky in my rear view mirror)
  • Bon Jovi - "Lost Highway"
In my rear view mirror, my life is getting clearer
Every time I think you're gone / You show up in my rear view mirror
  • John Mellencamp - "Longest Days" ("All I got here / Is a rear view mirror / Reflections of where Iíve been")
  • Zach Macko - "Home" ("My rear-view mirror plays like a movie screen / With every passing scene bleeds a memory")
  • Pink Floyd - "Two Suns In The Sunset"
  • Graziano Romani - "The Bridges You Burn" ("check my past in the rear-view mirror / don't recognize the face I see")
  • Harmony James - "Tailwind"
  • Patty Loveless' "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye" uses the back window of a '55 wagon instead.
  • The All American Rejects "Night Drive"
  • Demi Lovato - "Mistake"

  • Many biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, including those of Cindy Callinsky, Dale Earnhardt, and Sal Marchiano.


  • Blur in the Rear View is a play by Aleks Merilo in which "three people who were affected by a horrible tragedy when they were in high school [...] meet eight years later and look back at their relationships before and after that tragedy."

Video Games

  • From Max Payne 2:
    Max Payne: With no way to deal with the past, I kept my eyes on the road, off the rear view mirror and the roadkill behind me. I chased lesser mysteries, other people's crimes.

Web Comics

  • "rear view mirror" is the name of an exhibition of photographs of historical automobiles.

Mirrors Reflect EverythingPlease Reflect On This IndexRage Against The Reflection
Passed In Their SleepPages Needing WicksThe Pennyfarthing Effect
Ocean AweImageSource/InternetPlague Doctor

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