"Carmelita" as written by and Warren Zevon....
I hear Mariachi static on my radio
And the tubes they glow in the dark
And I'm there with her in Ensenada
And I'm here in Echo Park

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I'm sittin' here playing solitaire
With my pearl-handled deck
The county won't give me no more methadone
And they cut off your welfare check

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer chicken stand

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin


Lyrics submitted by hakimike

"Carmelita" as written by Warren Zevon

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Carmelita song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI have to disagree, i think it is exactly the kind of song warren Zevon would have written. He is the king of the kind of rock and roll that skips past the sex and drugs and goes prematurely to the consequences of a rock and roll lifestyle. it was his fast living that brougt him to a premature death, and i think he knew that he would come to such an end. what makes Warren so spectacular is that you know he would do it all again. his honesty and his lack of hypocracy are probably his most attractive qualities.
    scumbagstyleon February 03, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI am pretty sure the song has little to nothing to do about the rock and roll lifestyle. Warren only tried heroin once and it was a long time after this song was written. I believe it is more of a dark parody of Los Angeles and the junkie population.
    RoxorFuxoron September 02, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentEnsenada is a reference to the city in Mexico, not a street in LA. The narrator is talking about "being" in two places at once: he's literally down-and-out in Echo Park, but in his mind he's also "there with her in Ensenada." Whether Carmelita has left him and gone back to Ensenada or that it just represents a better ideal place where they'd both like to be is not clear.

    The pearl-handled deck that he's "playing solitaire" with is a handgun. The obvious interpretation is that he's playing Russian Roulette, but he could just be holding the gun and mulling over thoughts of suicide.
    JimmyCarlBlackon February 01, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentMaybe this is obvious, but since no one has mentioned it, I just wanted to note that Carmelita seems to have two meanings: a Mexican girlfriend, and black tar heroin (generally the type found in the western U.S., produced in Mexico, and less refined than the powder heroin from Afghanistan that the northeast has).

    I like this from Wikipedia: "it might be more accurate to say that it is about Los Angeles than about the character in question."
    galaxiaadon June 21, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCarmelita is my girlfriend, the Mexican heroin available at that time. Ensenada refers to a street on the 'outskirts' of L.A. at the time. 'Mariachi static on the radio' refers to highpowered radio transmissions from Mexican radio stations that would wash out American broadcasters, especialy if you were too stoned to retune the station you were listening to. Echo Park and Alvarado St. are obvious; west L.A. where it was possible. It is also important to understand that to pawn your 'Smith-Corona' - a portable electric typewriter - (especialy for a writer) would be the equivalent of pawning your laptop or I-Pad today.

    Warren Zevon wrote it, he knew such people and it is good that Murray McLauchlan took the time to introduce him to the world.
    hadagoatiton March 12, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat comments from others....I love this song. Two things, one Smith Corona was sung as Smith a Wesson still talking about Pearl Handled Deck...and two there is another seldom heard verse....by WZ.

    Every time I hear that siren scream
    you know I have a heart attack
    and your big old Samoan Boy friend
    Said he gonna come and break my back.

    My 3 year old daughter learned this song
    and sang it for my mom and dad
    when she got to the I'm all strung out.....they freaked
    EdShron April 18, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSome local color: the pioneer chicken stand in echo park is definitely a place you could score, right on the edge between low rent but almost respectable echo park hills and tough and dirty alvarado, you can imagine how this adds to the authenticity of the song. Ensenada is about 100k south of the border, maybe 4 hrs south of LA. Once a fishing town and now geared towards budget tourists, it's more cheap beer and tequila than heroin, but there are plenty of burned out alcoholics and a few girls like carmelita in places like Hussong's cantina to write a book about. Even if he wasn't the guy in the song, Zevon had to be close enough to make this so convincing.
    Dnellesenon September 03, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHas anyone noticed how this is musically similar to "Desolation Row" by Bob Dylan. The lyrics are pretty self explanitory though.
    jimmer-the-greaton March 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah i noticed its similar to a lot of songs, a ton of folk singers have songs like this
    Event_Horizonon October 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA lovely song,showing a different side of Warren that proves him to be a truly multifaceted type of performer.
    I take the song lyrics at "face value"and as having this meaning;a heroin junkie is longing for something from his past,in this case a woman.
    Incidentally,there is a version that refers to pawning his" Smith & Wesson",but in later versions it was changed to "Smith-Corona".
    Not sure why the change was made.Warren was not generally a "Politically Correct" type of guy.
    Maybe he softened up a bit in his "old age". : )
    And lastly,the phrase "Well, I'm sittin' here playing solitaire With my pearl-handled deck" most likely refers to a person contemplating ending it all with his pearl handled pistol,which makes more sense lyrically if he would have kept the "Smith & Wesson reference in his song.
    Jessguessinon December 17, 2014   Link

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