Acoustic,  Roots Rock

I hear mariachi static on the radio

I feel compelled to post this song because it’s been a recurring one over the last week on my playlists. And I just found that the chords are real simple (just E, A, and B7) so I can grab my acoustic and strum along or entertain my family with my own version. My almost-2 year old can’t tell that the song is about a depressed heroin junkie, it’s only a beautiful piece of music (hmmm, maybe she does know and she’s just not telling me because she can’t). OK, back to “head shoulders knees and toes” when she’s around.

“Carmelita” is on Warren Zevon’s self-titled 2nd album, released almost 30 years ago back in ol’ 76. Warren was a session man in LA for several years prior, and befriended Jackson Browne, who produced this album.

Warren Zevon (1947-2003, RIP): Carmelita (mp3)

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
On the outskirts of town

2 Comments

  • Judson Knight

    Pete, found your post while searching Google for chords to “Carmelita”. I can relate to everything you said here, including (1) being currently “hooked,” as it were, on “Carmelita”; (2) thinking it would be a fairly easy song to play on the guitar (assuming you didn’t try to capture any of the fancy stuff that helps give Zevon’s recording its intensity); and (3) then wondering how, when I’ve reached the point where I theoretically could play my rendition of the song for my kids, I could get around the fact that it’s about a suicidal junkie. Maybe I’ll just put some different words to it when performing it for them…. Anyway, thanks for a great post!

  • Nick Francis

    Pete- Thanks for the flashback. I grew up in Los Angeles and actually lived in the Echo Park area as a young toddler. Warren always reminds me of home somehow, particularly this song.

    You’ve been on a roll lately. keep it up.

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