Some have suggested that "Man in the Mirror" takes its inspiration from a poem known as "Guy in the Mirror" or "Guy in the Glass." The poem, written in 1934 by Dale Wimbrow, became widely popular and is sometimes attributed anonymously as a sort of folk poem. Still, even though the man in the mirror theme was not original, Siedah Garrett's own account of writing the song makes no mention of the poem. Instead, Garrett describes overhearing a phone conversation in Glen Ballard's home studio, and scribbling down the words "man in the mirror." When producer Quincy Jones asked Garrett and Ballard to work on "an up tempo, kind of dance song," the phrase came back to Garrett, who scribbled down the rest of the lyrics as if she was "in a frenzied trance."