Dreams & Illusions

The first time I met my cousin Michael, I was living in Texas and had no idea he even existed until he showed up on our doorstep. To be fair, he was with the rest of the family and they had surprised my parents with a visit to The Lone Star State where all one of them wanted to do was have Steak & Eggs for breakfast. Apparently, this is something that’s not allowed in Canada.

To say Cousin Michael was a bad influence on me is debatable. It depends on who you ask. My parents would agree that he was; teaching me to say “Goodnight you big, old bastards!” one night before I went to bed or the time that we slept together on the floor naked and handcuffed to each other. Some call it depravity; I think it’s more of a misguidance. But anyway…

Cousin Michael, for all of his misjudgments, was a genuinely good guy. Teaching me some semi-worldly things that I still keep a hold on to this day, like, “Procrastination is the grave as to which opportunity is buried” and one that I am a big believer in…”Take care of your friends and your friends will take care of you.” Now, I doubt that these neither are by far original thoughts nor were he the first person to ever think these things but it was the way he carried himself that a young teenager like me could look up to.

Time came for my little nuclear family to return the favor to our Canuck-ian relatives and paid them a visit one Christmas. There wasn’t any snow on the ground, but it was COLD!!! The only thing to do between having your cheeks pinched by unfamiliar relatives and meals that seemed to last a lifetime was go to the mall. One afternoon after a rather involved family meeting where nothing was decided about the next get-together, Cousin Michael stole me away for a couple of hours and took me to the mall.

I understood the concept of exchange rates, but couldn’t quite do the math in my head. Sometimes the math was spot on and other times not so much. When we were passing by the CD store, Michael asked if I knew what a bootleg was. I thought it was something to do with pirates and black flags, but no, he explained that they were recordings of concerts and he was taking me to one of the best places to get bootlegs in Toronto.

It was a small store. One guy behind the counter. Can’t remember what was playing on the store speakers but I do remember that there were a lot of bootleg CDs that all looked the same. They had the standard jewel box insert that came with the blank disc. On the cover was the band name, the date of the show and the city it was recorded in, all in Sharpie. All of them had this, there were a few exceptions, but this was the M.O. for the store it seemed. We spent a good half hour looking at stuff when Michael stumbles on a couple of shows that he wanted to pick up. Wanting to look cool and impress my older cousin, I racked my brain trying to find one that I wanted.

As I was looking in the glass case by the register, I noticed the Guns N’ Roses Dreams & Illusions 2-disc set. I instantly became infatuated with it and knew that I wanted to get it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough cash with me at the time so Michael said, “You want me to pick it up for you and you can pay me back?”

“That would be awesome.”

Flash forward 3 years later…

I don’t remember why I didn’t give Michael the money for the CDs. It couldn’t have been more than $40 (US). He never called me and asked about the money or when he was going to get it. It wasn’t until 3 years after this trip that we would be back in Canada visiting family.

I was also a little flusher with cash this time and the first thing I did when we saw each other again was gave him an envelope with $100 (US). He asked what it was for and I said, “For taking care of me when I didn’t have the cash to pay for that Guns N’ Roses CD a few years ago.”

So yeah, Michael may have been a bad influence at times, but I’ll never forget that if you take care of your friends, your friends will take care of you.

Right Next Door To HellGuns N' Roses3:02
Mr. BrownstoneGuns N' Roses4:24
Bad ObsessionGuns N' Roses7:20
Dust N' BonesGuns N' Roses6:02
Double Talkin' JiveGuns N' Roses5:12
PatienceGuns N' Roses5:37
14 YearsGuns N' Roses4:44
Live And Let DieGuns N' Roses4:16
It's So EasyGuns N' Roses5:37
Slash SoloGuns N' Roses3:06
November RainGuns N' Roses7:06
Piano ImprovisationGuns N' Roses2:25
Perfect CrimeGuns N' Roses3:07
Sweet Child O' MineGuns N' Roses8:02
Welcome To The JungleGuns N' Roses5:08
Down On The FarmGuns N' Roses3:24