Short Story in a Song — “Carmelita”

It’s a testament to Warren Zevon’s lyrical and musical genius that a song about a junkie in free fall could be so romantic. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a version sung by 70s pop idol Linda Ronstadt. But this is more than just a junkie love story, it’s also an ode to a bygone Los Angeles that still exists if you squint your eyes and go in search of giving up. Kinda puts you in the mood for Pioneer Chicken and somebody to hold you tighter while you shiver and shake through the night. For those reasons and so many more—including the line about pawning a Smith-Corona typewriter in order to go score (or was it a Smith & Wesson?)—”Carmelita” is probably one of the best short stories I’ve ever listened to.

Lucky for us, there are two versions. Which is your favorite?

Read the lyrics for “Carmelita” by Warren Zevon right HERE.

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.




  1. Some time has passed since then! It’s worth noting that the current wave of youth are more likely to know Carmelita via G.G. Allin’s version. Mr. Allin kept Ms. Ronstadt’s Smith & Wesson, but he also made the solitaire into Russian Roullette with the pearl-handled deck becoming a pearl-handled gun. I remain faithful to Mr. Z’s original, but Mr. A’s work is not without merit…

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