Willy DeVille Helps The Big Huerta Walk That Girl Home
Willy DeVille was in a band named Mink DeVille. Some peeps don’t get or know this. I am here for you. Some peeps don’t grasp his songwriting or his songs. For that, I feel for you. For Willy (sometimes aided by legendary writer Doc Pomus) wrote some of the most romantic, timeless songs in musical history. Songs that harkened back to an easier time, a better time, a time when all that mattered was to win the girl, with more than a nod to soul, street grit and The Drifters. When love conquered everything. Willy not only wrote of storybook loves but also of the reality of the street. My one reader of this column told me that it’s cool when I share personal stories about the person that is the subject of my art and not just fill it with a word count (153). So let me just finish up by saying, if you got to see Willy live then you were truly blessed. In his prime, he was dressed stylishly, suit and tie usually in a purple shirt, every girl wanted him….and every dude wanted to be him! Strolling out to the strains of “Harlem Nocturne”, Willy would eye the crowd, chewing gum firmly in a jaw that had traces of red lipstick firmly planted on one cheek, surveying us all to see if we were cool enough to receive the sacrament of his song. Willy was not only a showman but he was quite possibly armed. Unfortunately Willy battled demons and addictions that I will not get into here. He left us wonderful moments and his memory does not deserve to be besmirched. Willy passed away in August 2009 of pancreatic cancer while battling hepatitis C. I could write about Willy forever. I didn’t even touch on his CBGB years or his later years…maybe one day I will be able to give him the space that he richly deserves. Let me just list a few songs for the uninitiated to dig..”Little Girl”, “Mixed Up Shook Up Girl”, “Slow Drain”, “Spanish Stroll”, “You Better Move On”, “Hey Joe”, “Come a Little Bit Closer” and “Storybook Love” to name just a miniscule few.
So anyways, I will add a personal note to this article. Willy played a big role when I was courting my future wife even though she never knew. When we first started dating, I had “Le Chat Bleu” in my cassette player. I would listen to this, sort of like a good luck charm: “This Must be the Night” “That World Outside” and especially “Just to Walk that Little Girl Home”. Before every date, I would have that playing just before meeting her. It was the one time in my life when I got the girl that I really wanted, the one I thought I would never get, the girl in those songs, the “Pretty Flamingo” of my mind. It was one of the greatest times of my life. I never told her about playing that cassette before each date. I did put those above-mentioned Willy/Mink DeVille songs on her memorial mix.
I had to paint Willy in purple. Purple represents regal ness. Purple will always be the color that I associate with him. Misty always teased me about liking the color purple so much. I finished this painting just before my wife’s 40th birthday, just before all hell broke loose…but for a few all too brief years, I got to walk that little girl home and if I can’t love her tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow..RIP Willy and Misty Marie..Peace to you all.