Past in The Rearview Mirror

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    (Photos by Flickr users Big Grey Mare, Icky Pic)

    It was long ago and it was far away
    Oh God, it seems so very far
    And if life is just a highway,
    Then the soul is just a car,
    And objects in the rear view mirror

    May appear closer than they are.
    Meat Loaf, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are"

    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 Break Up Song or other "goodbye song." Don't be surprised to hear a rhyme with "nearer" or "clearer."

    Examples of Past in The Rearview Mirror include:


    • 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":

    I always tried to tell her 'bout the rearview mirror
    But she just wouldn't ever take a peek
    She said there's no need lookin' where you've already been
    When you've headed down a one-way street

    • Pearl Jam - "Rearviewmirror"
    • Alicia Keys - "Rear View Mirror"
    • Mac Davis - "Texas in My Rear View Mirror"
    • Bobby Valentino - "Rearview"

    I wanna right all my wrongs,
    What's done I can't redo,
    I'm just lookin' in my rearview, ridin',
    Lookin' in my rearview, ridin'.

    • 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")
    • Taylor Swift - "White Horse" (" This is a big world / That was a small town / There in my rear view mirror / Disappearing now")
    • 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")
    • Hilary Duff - "The Getaway" ("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 I’ve 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":

    In my rear view mirror the sun is going down,
    Sinking behind bridges in the road,
    And I think of all the good things
    That we have left undone.

    • Graziano Romani - "The Bridges You Burn" ("check my past in the rear-view mirror / don't recognize the face I see")
    • Harmony James - "Tailwind"
    • "Ain't What It Used to Be" by Megan Mullins: "That backward town in my rearview mirror / Was gonna be my whole world..."
    • Patty Loveless' "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye" uses the back window of a '55 wagon instead.
    • The All American Rejects "Night Drive":

    I know you, so better leave the city in the rear view
    I drive to eliminate the ball that I'm chained to.

    • Demi Lovato - "Mistake" ("Looking in the rear view mirror / Everything is so much clearer / Watch me wave it all goodbye, goodbye")


    • 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


    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.