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"Carmelita" is a rock song written by Warren Zevon. The song was originally recorded by Canadian singer Murray McLauchlan on his self-titled album of 1972. Zevon himself recorded it four years later, in 1976, on his self titled album. Linda Ronstadt recorded a well known version in 1977, and various covers have followed.
McLauchlan's original version appeared as an album track, and was not released as a single.
Zevon recorded a demo version of the song in 1974, which was released as a bonus track on the 2008 reissue of his self-titled album. Two other Zevon demo versions of "Carmelita" have also been officially released. The "master" recording appears on all versions of his 1976 self-titled album.
Linda Ronstadt recorded a slightly altered version of the song on her 1977 album, Simple Dreams. Ronstadt's version includes an alternate lyric that has Ronstadt pawning her "Smith & Wesson" as opposed to Zevon's "Smith Corona" thus creating a different persona for the protagonist. In a demo version released on Preludes - Rare and Unreleased Recordings, Zevon also sings about pawning a Smith & Wesson.
G.G. Allin covered this song as well. He turned away from his typical hard hitting punk to do a rather serene cover. The song can be found on the album Carnival of Excess and in an acoustic version on the soundtrack to Todd Phillips' 1994 documentary Hated. In the film Allin can be seen playing the song solo on his western guitar. He keeps Ronstadt's lyric about the Smith & Wesson, and changes the lyrics from "playing solitaire with my pearl handled deck" to "playing Russian Roulette with my pearl-handled gun". This version was used on the finale of the third season of the Showtime series Californication, partially covered by Madeleine Martin who portrays Hank Moody's (David Duchovny) daughter.
Counting Crows also released a cover version of this song as part of a Warren Zevon tribute in 1999.
Rachel Stamp covered this song on their 'Didn't I break my heart over you' single.
A 'punked up' version of the song was also featured on The Wildhearts covers album Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before Vol 1. This version, sung by Wildhearts bassist Scott Sorry, features the altered lyric "I pawned my Gibson Thunderbird".
L.A. band The Bronx covered the song as a B-side for a vinyl single in 2006.
Michael Todd, bassist for Coheed and Cambria played a cover version of this song before one of their Neverender tour shows. Claudio Sanchez sang back up vocals. Todd said it was a song that got him through rehab. He was there for heroin addiction.
Social Distortion plays the song live from time to time, although it has yet not been released on any album.
Widespread Panic covered the song on January 29, 2012 during the last night of a three night stand at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA during their historic, all acoustic "Wood Tour."
Zevon's version was featured prominently in the 2004 film Around The Bend starring Christopher Walken, Michael Caine and Josh Lucas, and in the film Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Jeff Daniels.