Epiphany in The Southwest
By 2000, DeVille had cured his two-decades-long addiction to heroin. He relocated to Cerrillos Hills, New Mexico, where he produced and played on an album, Blue Love Monkey, with Rick Nafey, a friend from his youth in Connecticut who had played in DeVille's first band, Billy & the Kids, as well as The Royal Pythons. In New Mexico, DeVille's wife Lisa committed suicide by hanging; DeVille discovered her body. He said:
I got in a car accident because I got crazy. I think I was somewhat taunting death because somebody who I loved very much died. And I found them. That's what that lyric in that song means ("she hurts me still since I cut her down" ). I cut her down. Next thing you know the police show up, I was in tears... I was in love with another woman and we were going through some hard times, and I got in the car and I wanted to go off the cliff. I was in the mountains in New Mexico... They came right around the corner head on. You know how big a Dodge Ram truck is? I broke my arm in three places and my knee went into the dash board... It was bone to bone... I was on crutches and on a cane for about three years and I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. I was fucked up. I was ready for the scrapheap.
"I guess I was testing the waters to see if I would live through it", DeVille told another interviewer. "It was a foolish, foolish thing to do." For the next five years, DeVille walked with a cane and performed sitting on a barstool, until he had hip replacement surgery in 2006.
DeVille's stay in the Southwest awakened his interest in his Native American heritage. On the cover of his next album, 2002's Acoustic Trio Live in Berlin, recorded to celebrate his 25 years' of performing, DeVille wore long hair. He began wearing Native American clothing and jewelry on stage.
In 2004, DeVille returned to Los Angeles to record Crow Jane Alley, his third album with producer John Philip Shenale. The album continued his explorations of his Spanish-Americana sound and featured many prominent Los Angeles Latino musicians. On the cover, DeVille wore a Native American headdress and breastplate. Richard Marcus said of the album, "Crow Jane Alley is the work of an artist who after thirty plus years in the business still has the ability to surprise and delight his listeners. Listening to this disc only confirms that Willy DeVille is one of the greats who have been ignored for too long."
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