For the next decade, he worked to overcome his brain injury as he retaught himself to walk, talk, and play the guitar and also earned a commercial art degree. He has described the wreck and its aftermath in his frank and well-reviewed autobiography, One Man’s Music: The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell.
Vince’s eventual first album, Phoenix, produced by Bob Neuwirth with session musicians Geoff Muldaur, Fritz Richmond, David Mansfield, Mickey Raphael, and John Cale, was released in 1994. Lyle Lovett and Victoria Williams contributed background vocals. Rick Mitchell of the Houston Chronicle praised the album, writing, “Phoenix adroitly mixes elements of folk, blues, and country in an acoustic setting. But it’s Bell’s alternatingly oblique and soul-baring lyrics that make the album a captivating listen.” In the New York Times, Neil Strauss wrote that the lyrics were “filled with images of misshapen monsters and twisted metal, paralysis and victory, loneliness and introspection.”