Nelson is the duo of Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, identical twin sons of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Nelson. This song, from their debut album After The Rain, is about a guy who is trapped in the "friend zone" with a girl, and he's desperate to turn their relationship romantic.
It seems like a stretch that the photogenic, guitar-playing Nelson twins would have any trouble getting a girl to notice them, but in our interview with Gunnar, he said this was indeed the case. "When I was in high school, I certainly was not one of the popular kids," he said. "It seemed like all the hot chicks used to come to me to get advice about their dirtbag boyfriends, and I made them feel better about themselves, and they'd go right back to the dirtbag boyfriend. So that's where that lyric came from: a true-life experience of feeling that way."
Matthew Nelson used to say that he developed the guitar riff for this song while looking at a photo of supermodel Cindy Crawford in Vogue magazine. This likely apocryphal tale ties in with the video, where at the beginning of the clip there is some dialog between the twins. Gunnar is seen reading "Vague" magazine when his brother asks him to start working on the song. "Did you see this?," Gunnar says, pointing to the cover model. "Fine," Matthew replies, "then this one's for her."
The Nelson family are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family with three generations of #1 hitmakers. The twins are grandsons of 1930s Big Band leader Ozzie Nelson who had a #1 hit with "And Then Some." Ozzie went on to marry his vocalist Harriet and they later became TV stars with their show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The show starred the entire family including their son Ricky Nelson who had two chart-toppers with "Poor Little Fool" and "Travelin' Man." Thirty years later Matthew and Gunnar Nelson had their own #1 with this song.
When this went to #1 in the US, Nelson became the only act with twins other than the Bee Gees to hit the top spot.
This was Nelson's first single. They had been making music together since their teenage years, but focused their efforts after their father Rick Nelson died in a 1985 plane crash when the twins were 18. They got a deal with Geffen Records in 1988 and took about two years to make the After The Rain album. "(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection" was a huge hit, capturing the slick, melodic pop-rock sound (some might call it hair metal) that was big at the time. Nelson also came with a famous pedigree and a look that played well not just on MTV, but also in the various magazines like Tiger Beat that were targeted to young girls.
The next single was the album's title track, and it was also a hit, going to #6 US. This was followed by "More Than Ever" (#14) and "Only Time Will Tell" (#28), but when the musical landscape changed, Geffen bailed on the band, giving their next album (Because They Can, 1995) little promotion and releasing them soon after. Nelson released some albums independently over the next 15 years, then recorded for the small label Frontiers.
Like most songs on the album, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson wrote this with Marc Tanner, who co-produced the album. With his group The Marc Tanner Band, he had a minor hit with "Elena" in 1979. He's also done a lot of work writing music for films, including Armageddon, Love Actually and Daredevil.
Geffen Records put a lot of marketing muscle into Nelson's debut, and they didn't skimp on the video for this song. It was directed by Jim Yukich, an MTV mainstay who did many of the Genesis and Phil Collins videos that pervaded the network. The "Love and Affection" video begins with the Nelson twins performing the song on acoustic guitars in a sepia-toned setting before transitioning to a colorful full-band performance in what looks like the atrium of a 5-star hotel that hired a 2-star interior designer. The clip concludes by bringing it back to the acoustic setting. The video got a big promotional push when the Nelson twins hosted the call-in/countdown show Dial MTV for a week.
"Love and Affection" is the name of a 1976 UK hit for Joan Armatrading. Nelson distinguished their song by making the official title "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection."
This is the only Hot 100 hit with the word "affection" in the title.