Sorry If I Dissed You: An Unnecessarily Close Look at My Favorite Song to Come Out of the 90s

Luke Palermo

Artwork by Luke Palermo

Written on the cusp of adulthood by Isaac Brock, “Trailer Trash‰” shows an emotional wisdom well beyond the Modest Mouse frontman‰’s years. Equal parts post-wrongdoing self-reflection and memoir of lower-middle class American living, the track remains one of the most intensely personal songs in the band‰’s entire catalogue

It was conceived during a time when Brock took great care to write music that would set Modest Mouse apart from the grunge scene of Seattle and post-hardcore scene of Olympia. Having made some rough demos of the guitars beforehand, the band was eager to sharpen their unique eclectic lo-fi style and finally get a proper recording of the song (Dann Gallucci, who also plays guitar on the track, was apparently contacted by Brock to help record the day before they began).

Imagine an empty street on a starless night. It‰’s the middle of winter, and a pristine layer of snow robs the air of even the faintest noise. The soft, orange glow of a lone streetlight stands amid the dead silence, illuminating the sparse snowflakes as they float to the ground. That‰’s the type of loneliness the first few chords of “Trailer Trash‰” illustrate.

The melancholy guitar is soon joined by the loose but careful drumming of Jeremiah Green and the solid bass of Eric Judy. They guide the song with surprising finesse for two college-aged kids, without a single note or beat out of place. Brock‰’s trademark crunchy, jangly guitar tone is complemented by Gallucci‰’s clean, melodic strumming, allowing the song to float along until the end of the second refrain. There it lulls for just a bit, like a pendulum at it‰’s highest point, then crashes down and swells into a monster of an outro.

Green hammers on his cymbals and imbues the track with raw energy while Judy‰’s bass is kicked to the forefront, his powerful thumbing the solid foundation on which Brock and Gallucci play. Their guitars sound like an aural interpretation of the surface of the sun – a powerful, swirling mass with one guitar bleeding into the other and with the random and spectacular solar flares of Brock‰’s unforgettable stream-of-conscious. Eventually the jamming slows down, and “Trailer Trash‰” fades out with a final, satisfying guitar strum.

Lyrically, Brock describes the song to be “half-fiction,‰” drawing upon his own personal experience living in a trailer park at a young age to concoct a story more about emotional memory than explicit memory. He explores feelings ranging from insecurity and general dissatisfaction with oneself (“Taking heartache with hard work / God damn, I am such a jerk / I can’t do anything‰Û) to genuine gratitude for help of others during ill-fated times (“Eating snowflakes with plastic forks / And a paper plate of course / You think of everything‰Û), all against the backdrop of an imagined but believable American “trailer trash‰” lifestyle. Perhaps the most memorable lines come from the chorus, where Brock appears to recount the flashbulb memory of some rash, adolescent mistake:

“And I shout that you’re all fakes

And you should’ve seen the look on your face

And I guess that’s what it takes

When comparing your belly aches


And it’s been a long time

Which agrees with this watch of mine

And I know that I miss you

and I’m sorry if I dissed you‰Û

This portion of the song seems to be the most personal, as well as grounded in actual experience. The repetitive “And‰Ûs give the impression of gradually recalling the experience – perhaps even fondly, in a nostalgic way. When “Fakes!‰” is shouted in the background it almost seems like a momentary flashback to the actual event.

The second refrain is exactly the same as the first except for one subtle difference: “And I know that I miss you‰” is changed to “And I guess that I miss you.‰” Perhaps it wasn‰’t even intentional, but I interpret it as an allusion to a steadfast refusal to admit one is wrong, a tentative confession by someone still plagued by adolescent stubbornness. Also worth noting is that this is the only time I‰’ve ever heard the word “diss‰” used in a song, let alone to this level of effectiveness.

“Trailer Trash‰” is a song best listened to in a secluded place with your eyes closed, allowing every note wash over you. A cigarette is mandatory, if you‰’re into those. It‰’s a too little, too late admission of guilt meant for a person long-forgotten, almost a memento mori for relationships. It reminds me of every stupid, shitty thing I‰’ve ever done and always gives me a weird knot in my stomach, but in a satisfying way that makes me grateful for every person I‰’ve ever met. Everything from the lyrics to the mixing to the instrumentation to the raw emotion truly makes it a milestone in the discography of one of the most influential and prolific bands to come out of a turbulent musical decade.