Southside Lovers: Hell on Bed Slats

Nate Dungan of Trailer Trash. Credit: Photo by Lynn Richter

He isn’t a sociologist or sexpert, but as a songwriter and leader of Minneapolis honky-tonk heroes Trailer Trash, Nate Dungan has seen and sung about his fair share of the human condition. One story in particular he’s told many times, in introducing his tune “Bedslats.”

In 1998, Dungan was helping his brother and his brother’s fiancée move into a new apartment on 33rd and South 1st Avenue. When the young couple discovered their bed frame to be in need of support, Nate was dispatched to the old Bennett Lumber yard in Uptown to fetch some planks.

Upon arrival, Dungan placed his order for two one-by-four planks. When he went to pick them up, the lumberyard man behind the counter commented, “One by four? I know what these are for. Where do you live?”

“South Minneapolis,” said Dungan.

“I knew it!,” said the woodman. “South Minneapolis is hell on bed slats.” 

Happy Valentine’s Day and congratulations, South Minneapolis lovers. Long rumored and gossiped about, your legendary appetite for libidinous destruction of bedroom equipment has finally been lionized in song, written by Dungan and recorded by Trailer Trash for the 1999 CD, “Nearer My Bar To Thee.” The song is a hit whenever Trailer Trash uncorks it live, and it remains one of the band’s most popular singalongs: 

South Minneapolis is hell on bed slats

I don’t think I need to tell you that

In this town

Oh the way the kids move around

From Lake to Franklin

Lyndale to Hennepin …

Well you will need some lumber

When it’s time to slumber

And lay your head

 

Down to the lumberyard I handed in my order card

He took it and said it with a grin

“Five foot by one by four I know what you need ’em for

“I knew your kind when you walked in

“Well all through the neighborhood

“This is where they come for wood

“Better get the measurement right

“‘Cos if you’re gonna use it

“I know you will abuse it

“When things go bump in the night…” 

“True story,” said Dungan, who grew up in Tennessee. “When he said, ‘South Minneapolis is hell on bed slats,’ I said, ‘There’s a song right there,’ and went home and wrote it in 20 minutes. We get requests for it every time we play, and now it’s taken on a life of its own. I know it’s been the soundtrack to a lot of dances and dates over the years, and weddings, but I don’t have the facts and figures…”

About how, exactly, South Minneapolis is “hell on bed slats,” that is. But who does? A quick survey of area therapists neither confirms nor debunks Dungan’s assertion that South Minneapolis is a hotbed of bed-breaking love-making, but this is what we know: According to the Minneapolis Health Department, the number of births in Southwest Minneapolis has remained static for the past 20 years (at about 2,200 per year) and in 2007, Men’s Health named Minneapolis number two on its list of Top Five Cities to Find a Mate.

That’s about it. While St. Paul gets mooned over by USA Today as “the most romantic getaway city in North America,” Minneapolis has been voted time and again one of the healthiest, smartest, drunkest, fittest, hippest places on the planet. But if Dungan and his lumberyard source’s research is correct — and who wouldn’t want to believe it? — we’re a populace made up of behind-closed-doors beasts whose desire makes toothpicks out of two-by-fours and suggests we should in fact be known as Best City For Olympic Figure Skating-Style Sex.

Baby, it’s cold outside. It’s also Valentine’s Day, that most perfect of hibernation days, and most athletic lovers learned long ago that box springs are better than bedslats for finding the perfect groove. Functional and firm, box springs don’t break, but they also don’t inspire a song like “Bedslats,” one spin of which will convince South Minneapolitans everywhere that our neighbors are total animals.

“It’s a pretty good song,” laughed Dungan. “The kids are hooking up and having sex in South Minneapolis, and it’s been going on for years. There must be something about the area, the crosscurrents of the understream running through everything, where the fairies play and make people do crazy [stuff].”

Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet. He can be reached at [email protected] and www.jimwalshmpls.com