The Nelson twins . Too hard to be soft and too soft to be hard.
Their manufactured fashion sense and pretty boy looks made it hard for anyone to take them seriously.
But I did.
From the moment I hit record on my Fisher VCR to tape the “Love and Affection” video on Saturday Morning Videos, I was enamored.
Glossy guitars. Pitch perfect melodies. Flat ironed hair. Emotion! These two dudes were all in, and I loved it.
There was nothing I didn’t like about their debut album. The only difficult thing about being a Nelson twins fan as a 14-year-old boy was being a Nelson twins fan as a 14-year-old boy.
But despite some crooked stares from people who claimed allegiance to bands with “street cred,” I didn’t care. I played Nelson loud.
It made the boys laugh, and as an unintended consequence, exposed a “gentler” side to my female counterparts. In fact, being a Nelson fan might have been part of my effusive charm to a certain kind of young lady. 🙂
It’s clear now that early on I made a choice: I would proudly support the bands I loved, no matter the consequence.
Like it or not, Nelson WAS alternative music…even if their debut album spent over a year on top of the charts. And even if they looked more soap-star than rock-star.
Sure, it sounds silly now, worrying about proclaiming your love of a band. But back in the day, out in the suburban schoolyard or summer camp swimming pool, music choices were everything. The artists you (publicly) loved partially dictated which cliques you were eligible for. And since no one was willing to put down their yellow Sony Sports walkman and raise their hand as a Nelson twins fan, I was a “Love and Affection” clique of ONE.
Nineteen-ninety was the year of “After the Rain”–the same year I’d be adjusting to a new house, struggling through junior high school, and learning a valuable lesson: never date a neighbor–especially one who is only two houses away carrying a burden of parental abandonment. But I digress.
Even the shade of blue and pink used for Nelson’s debut album cover looked more like a baby shower invitation than a rock album. But I would listen to the CD forwards and backward, backward and forwards. I would sing along. Play air guitar, even air piano.
To the 14-year-old me, these guys had it all figured out in life and love.
“I’ve been on the outside looking in.Love and Affection, Nelson
Let me into your heart.”
Little did I know about their famous pedigree. My mom mentioned something about some old black and white show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and something tragic about their dad passing in a plane crash. But all I cared about was waiting for the follow-up album to After the Rain.
Dreamed that one day I’d own a dog named Gunnar.
I imagined that Nirvana and Nelson collaborated; maybe Nelson would open for Guns n’ Roses. After all, they were all sons of Geffen records!
But the album never came.
It took half a decade for Nelson to release their follow up, “Because They Can.” By then, the sophomore jinx was more than a superstition; it was a fait accompli. Thanks to internal band battles and record label struggles, the initially planned album “Imaginator” was shelved for being “too dark,” and the “lighter” BTC album was released. Either way, it just wasn’t going to work.
The Nelson twins wouldn’t be the first or last artists swallowed up into relative music-chart-oblivion by a space in time. But somehow, more than 30 years later, the album is still relative to me. Put me in a karaoke room today, and I’m still going “After the Rain,” all the way.
“Whoa, after the rainafter the rain, nelson
Washes away the tears
And all the pain
Only after the rain
Can you live again”
My fandom is unwavering. And in-between my Teenage Wrist and Biffy Clyro and Gojira and assorted alternative rock playlist –there’s always room for Nelson.
Where are the Nelson twins now, you ask? Still rocking and making people happy, of course.
Once a fan, always a fan, even if my love is with a 30-year-old album.
Nelson = true alternative music.