MUSIC

Songs About Loss for Día de los Muertos

These songs transcend lifetimes.

Día de los Muertos is about remembering the dead, celebrating their lives, and acknowledging the pain of losing loved ones.

It's a sacred day in Mexico and parts of South America, and it's very much not Halloween.

For Day of the Dead, we've compiled a selection of traditional and contemporary Mexican folk songs meant to honor the holiday, as well as everyone who has made the passage over to the other side.

You might know the last one, "Remember Me," from the film Coco, but Day of the Dead has inspired countless traditional songs, poems, and brilliant works of art. Ultimately, attendees at typical Day of the Dead celebrations will often play the kind of music that their departed loved ones enjoyed, so if you're looking to honor departed loved ones on this day, you might just want to spin their favorite tunes. That said, the Mexican folk music tradition is rich in tradition and sublime in sound, and some of these songs are too gorgeous not to share.

Remember, though, if you're not part of the culture that celebrates this holiday, be careful if, when, and how you decide to partake in this day. Make sure you're not appropriating these cultures, avoid wearing costumes, do some research on the holiday and its meaning and sacredness, and support Mexican artists and causes.

1. La Llorona

This folk song's origins are wrapped in obscurity, but it is known that the song originated a long time ago in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In 1941, the composer Andres Henestrosa popularized the song. There are numerous modern versions, with everyone from Chavela Vargas to Lila Jones lending their voices and finger-picking skills to the track.

The tune's lyrics are said to come from the original legend of La Llorona, the ghostly "Weeping Woman" of Mexican and South American folklore. Some of the verses were probably written during the Mexican Revolution, and today, it's frequently used to scare children into going to bed. Since it tells the story of a ghost (or a woman who won't allow her lover to leave her, depending on the interpretation), it's a natural fit for Día de los Muertos.

La llorona , Chavela Vargas www.youtube.com

2. La Bruja

Just as La Llorona tells the story of a wicked, ghostly woman, so does La Bruja, which translates loosely to "The Witch." According to legend, La Bruja is a kind of witch that sucks blood like a vampire. Lyrically, like La Llorona, it's also been interpreted as being about a woman who goes out on the hunt for a man, though there are many legends about what its lyrics might be trying to say. Most of the song is from the perspective of someone getting stolen by a witch. Some believe it references the old folk story that witches would dance with candles on their heads, making it look like the candles were floating; others believe it has more ominous implications, but it's really up to the listener.

The song is often used as a children's rhyme, but it's also been gorgeously covered by many artists.

Vincente Chavarria | La Bruja | AEA Sessions www.youtube.com

3. Calaveritas — Ana Tijoux, Celso Piña

This song was released by Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux to honor the dead, specifically those lost during the Pinochet dictatorship. The title, "Calaveritas," means "little skulls," and it's full of loving messages for those whose lives were lost. Recorded with Mexican musician Celso Piña, it's a blend of traditional, folk, and experimental sounds with a powerful message. "We all carry within us / one who died before us / who appears when night falls and the sun goes out," read some of the lyrics. It also includes a quote from a revolutionary named Pierre Dubois who opposed Pinochet during his regime: "It is not enough to say that justice takes time but it arrives. Justice that is not exercised when appropriate is already unfair."

Ana Tijoux - Calaveritas www.youtube.com

4. Amor Eterno

This song was written in 1984 by Mexican singer Juan Gabriel and quickly became the most popular song for funerals in his native country. It's a rich, sad, and nostalgic piece, one that pays tribute to loves of old while acknowledging the pain of loss in the present. It's been covered magnificently by countless artists, but Silvana Estrada's version is incredibly moving in its delicacy and compassion.

Juan Gabriel - Amor Eterno (En Vivo [Desde el Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes]) www.youtube.com


This well-known song has a way of reappearing in times of need. After the shooting in El Paso, Texas this summer, the song became a staple at funerals and memorial services. "How I wish that you still lived that your precious eyes had never closed so that I could see them eternal love unforgettable," go the lyrics, which ensure that there's never a dry eye when this song is played.

5. Remember Me, Coco

This movie beautifully portrayed Día de los Muertos and was tied together by the gorgeous ballad "Remember Me." In the film, the song is capable of crossing the boundary between life and death, forming an everlasting bond that keeps memories alive and inspires new generations to continue old legacies. It perfectly captures the message of Día de los Muertos: Even after our loved ones say goodbye, they're kept alive by memories and in song, and that's something to celebrate.

Carlos Rivera - Recuérdame (De "Coco"/Versión de Carlos Rivera/Official Video) www.youtube.com


Benjamin Bratt - Remember Me (Official Video From "Coco") [Ernesto de la Cruz] www.youtube.com


Top Stories

Three Underrated Netflix Foreign-Films Worth Watching

The success of Roma should bring attention to the seriously underrated selection of foreign-language Netflix original films. Here are three other foreign films worth watching.

Variety.com

Roma has been quite the cinematic achievement for Netflix.

After a series of flops (think Bright and The Cloverfield Paradox), Alfonso Cuarón's film represents an exciting step forward for the platform's original content. Roma's success should also bring attention to the seriously underrated selection of fascinating and impactful foreign language Netflix originals.

Like Roma, many of these foreign language films boast compelling characters and storylines, aesthetically pleasing cinematography, and commentary on social issues in their respective cultures.

Happy as Lazzaro

Alice Rohrwacher's Happy as Lazzaro tells the story of Lazzaro, a friendly and hardworking sharecropper on the tobacco farming estate, Inviolata, in the 1970s. Lazzaro and his fellow sharecroppers live in deep poverty, always in debt and often going unpaid. He befriends the landowners' son, Tancredi, who, eager for adventure to spice up his cloistered and privileged existence, enlists Lazzaro to fake his own kidnapping. Eventually, the police come searching for Tancredi but instead discover destitute, slavery-like conditions.

As it happens, Lazzaro falls off a cliff only to miraculously wake up nearly 20 years later to discover the land and the manor are now empty. The sharecroppers have been replaced by immigrant day laborers from Africa and Eastern Europe. Lazzaro, desperately looking for Tancredi and his friends and family from Inviolata, ventures to a nearby city. He finds his former sharecropping community, still living in desperate poverty. Lazzaro eventually runs into Tancredi, who he finds in a dramatically worse state than years before.

Happy as Lazzaro is worth watching for its gorgeous cinematography alone, but its use of magical realism is the real attraction. These fantastical elements sometimes blur the line between dreams and the real world. Lazzaro is often transfixed by his imagination and dream-like visions — his method of escapism.

At its core, Happy as Lazzaro about the inescapable class divisions in Italian society. Lazzaro and the sharecropping community are constantly exploited by the wealthy landowners with no chance to escape their oppressive economic situation. The relationship between Lazzaro and Tancredi can't escape the rich-poor class dynamic, as Lazzaro understands he serves Tancredi, not the other way around. Even when years later Lazzaro discovers his family from the village in the city, they haven't progressed economically at all. They live in an empty water tower by the train tracks, surviving by scamming people on the street. Tancredi is often seen wearing a Walkman, whilst Lazzaro wears the same tattered clothes. Not only are they of a different class but seemingly from a different century.

Happy as Lazzaro makes an undeniable political point. It's an indictment of how the flow of global capital has racked the lives of the Italian working class. Lazzaro, no matter how decent, hardworking, and honest he is, will never escape the fate consigned to him by economic forces outside his control.

Time Share

Directed by Mexican filmmaker Sebastian Hoffman, Time Share is the story of a couple, Pedro and Eva, and their young son, embarking on a much-needed vacation. Very quickly, what should be a week in paradise, goes from bad to worse. The resort accidentally books another family in their timeshare and, later, Pedro breaks his nose while playing tennis. Eventually, Pedro suspects the resort is plotting against his family.

Time Share is a pointed criticism and a darkly funny satire of the idea of the "dream" vacation and corporate culture. When the time share is double booked, Pedro meets with a resort manager to try to rectify the problem. Throughout, the manager repeats the same script, telling Pedro that it's the resort's job to make "your dreams come true." This just adds to the absurdity and the hopelessness of dealing with inept, out of touch customer service.

It's a takedown of corporate culture is revealed most poignantly through two resort workers, Andres and Gloria. Andres works downstairs in the laundry, usually quietly going about his business. He's a veteran at the resort, but has been slow to adjust to the culture pushed by the resort's new ownership. No longer respected by anyone, he's completely broken down by his job. Gloria, his wife, is also reeling from a recent personal tragedy. In one scene, Tom (RJ Mitte), a motivational speaker brought in by the company, implores her that she is part of the "Everfields [the resort chain] family" and they will do anything she needs. But we're left feeling that these sentiments of family are just a smokescreen to get their employees to pledge loyalty to a faceless corporation.

The film is also visually striking with an eerie neon glow in almost every scene. But what makes it so terrifyingly relatable is the devastating lampooning of the hellish vacation everyone's experienced, and corporations who try to be your "friend" just to sell you something.

And Breathe Normally

This film from Iceland follows the lives of two women facing vastly different circumstances whose lives intersect after a chance encounter. One woman, Lara, is a single mom battling unemployment and drug addiction. The other, Adja, is an asylum-seeker from Guinea-Bissau attempting to reunite with her family in Canada. While training to become a border guard Lara encounters Adja trying to pass through an airport checkpoint with a fake passport. Adja is taken into custody, and begins an arduous process through the Icelandic immigration system. One day, Lara is desperate to find her five-year-old son, Eldar, who has run off after his cat. After hours searching, she finds him with Adja who helped Eldar find the cat. Lara reluctantly offers to give her a ride back to the refugee center, and from there their relationship begins, Lara now resolved to help Adja get to Canada.

And Breathe Normally illustrates the dehumanizing bureaucracy surrounding the immigration process and shows the desperate measures migrants will take to get to their destination. Adja pays a smuggler to bring her to Canada on a cargo ship but declines at the last minute. It also starkly reveals the tremendous difficulties placed upon people by the vicious cycles of unemployment, addiction, evictions and custody battles. Lara's only way out is to take a job she soon finds ethically problematic. In a film of bleak circumstances set to the backdrop of a drab Icelandic landscape, Eldar stands out. His innocence and curiosity are especially endearing. He too develops a relationship with Adja, despite the language barrier.

In the end, it asks a crucial question of the viewer: What lengths are you willing to go when your values and someone else's life is on the line?

These three films contain themes and stories strongly connected to the countries from where they come, but are also extremely relevant to American audiences. They are stories of poverty and exploitation, of vacations gone terribly wrong, of migration and refugees, of unemployment and drug addiction, of unlikely relationships. They are stories of characters we can identify and empathize with. They are stories of our common humanity.


Dan is a writer and occasional optimist in this chaotic, stupid world. You can follow him on Twitter @danescalona77.


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Yalitza Aparicio, the First Indigenous Woman Nominated for an Oscar, Speaks Out

Aparicio, an aspiring teacher nominated for an Oscar for her starring role in Roma, may have found her largest classroom yet.

Yalitza Aparicio didn't mean for any of this to happen.

When she auditioned for Alfonso Cuarón's Roma on a whim—mostly to appease her pregnant sister, who insisted she go to the open casting call in her place—she never imagined it would launch her into the jet-setting life of a social media star, a press junket darling, and an Oscar nominee.

The cast of Roma embraces at the end of the film.Photo via screenrant.com

"There has never been a casting before in our hometown," Aparicio told Deadline in December. "I thought that it could be related to human trafficking, because they never do castings in Oaxaca." But she went anyway, and the rest is history.

When he first saw Aparicio, Cuarón knew instantly that she was his star. Things were less clear to her, an aspiring school teacher with no acting experience; she told the Times that she originally turned Cuarón's offer down, wanting to focus on teaching. But she had some time before application season, and after consulting with her family, she told Cuaron, "Well, I think I can do it. I have nothing better to do."

Aparicio proves herself a red carpet natural.Image via the Los Angeles Times

Flash forward to today, and now she is the first indigenous woman to ever garner an Oscar nomination. Before the nomination was announced, the New York Times asked Aparicio what an Oscar might mean to her. "I'd be breaking the stereotype that because we're Indigenous we can't do certain things because of our skin color," she said. "Receiving that nomination would be a break from so many ideas. It would open doors to other people—to everyone—and deepen our conviction that we can do these things now."

Certainly the Oscar nod, coupled with Aparicio's presence on the cover of Vogue and on the red carpet, will light the way for new faces who might not otherwise be able to entertain Hollywood dreams. Of course, indoctrination into Hollywood may not be the key to healing the disadvantages that violent colonization has always caused Indigenous peoples—changes to the structural forces that keep Indigenous people in poverty could do the trick—but Aparicio's emergence as a voice for her culture is at the very least a move towards counteracting traditional, constrictive beauty standards.

Roma, on the whole, operates in a tenuous duality; it is an indictment of stereotypes about indigenous people, but it also remains true to them. Aparicio's character spends the majority of her time picking up after the Spanish-speaking family whom she works for; her role is less of a tale of female empowerment than a document of the real. Her ascension to the limelight belies a similar underlying complexity, as her elevation to press and Instagram darling could be read as both a triumph of diversity in media and a tokenization of the Indigenous identity.

The film addresses the complexities of this issue by both addressing and not addressing it, portraying Aparicio's character Cleo as a three-dimensional but reserved and withdrawn character. It treats politics this way, too. Roma takes place against a backdrop of violence in the 1970s, which it shows only in short glimpses, mostly focusing instead on the minutiae of its characters' domestic lives.

Aparicio and Pepe share an introspective moment.Image via screenrant.com

But violence was very much present in Mexico of the 1970s—a fact that remains true of much of Mexico today. Aparicio is acutely aware of the tensions currently overwhelming much of her country. "Think about just the disappearance of students in Ayotzinapa [in 2014]—it's very recent," she told Vox of one of the recent acts of violence that has plagued Mexico, forcing many to flee to the U.S.'s borders in search of asylum. Ironically, one of Roma's stars, Jorge Antonio Guerro, has been denied a visa to the U.S. despite submitting letters of proofs to immigration services three separate times, according to Newsweek. He still hopes to be able to enter in time for the Oscars, as Roma itself took 10 nominations overall.

As for Aparicio, she still harbors dreams of being a schoolteacher. But she does see a correlation between teaching and acting, telling Deadline that "as a teacher, you educate. And films educate too, but they do it in a massive way."

Her performance in Roma is a master class of its own. She works the camera with such a natural elegance that it's easy to forget the learning curve she was up against. Not only has she never been on film before; she also had to master Mixtec, one of the Indigenous languages of the Oaxaca region that her character speaks on and off, and she had to learn to swim for the film's final beach scene.

In a way, with Roma she's just stepped into a much larger classroom, and she has plenty of words of wisdom and hope to share with the world. "I'm not the face of Mexico," Aparicio told The Times. "It shouldn't matter what you're into, how you look—you can achieve whatever you aspire to."


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. She loves coffee, electric guitars, and subway rides to Coney Island.


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C. SHIROCK Releases 'Confess Your Love'

Daring to love takes courage.

Photo Credit: Allister Ann

C. SHIROCK, aka Chuck Shirock, recently dropped a new music video for his song, "Confess Your Love."

Currently living in Nashville, Shirock is well-known as the founder, frontman, and composer for the band SHIROCK. After going through a bevy of personal changes, the singer opted to re-invent himself. He decided to go solo.

Explaining his decision, Shirock says, "I viewed it as a continuation or an evolution or sorts. It's been incredibly freeing and liberating to chase whatever turns me on...to create without inhibition."

Born in the U.S., the peripatetic Shirock lived in the Philippines and Scotland as a child, and then relocated to Nashville to study music. He's been featured on MTV, NBC, and ABC, as well as performed at festivals in the U.S. and the UK, sharing the stage with Twenty One Pilots, Cage The Elephant, and Manchester Orchestra.


C. SHIROCK - Confess Your Love youtu.be

According to Shirock, "'Confess Your Love' was written about a chance encounter and meeting my partner for the first time in Tulum, Mexico. The song tells the very literal story of our beginning, and captures those first moments of falling in love, and the risk when you open yourself up to someone. The video co-stars a beautiful Mexican model and actress, Nohemí Hermosillo, and is a story about those little moments that can change everything."

"Confess Your Love" opens with a sparkling synth-scape, lustrous gleaming textures, and a measured, pulsing flow. Full of passionate desire, intimacy, and taut vulnerability, the pop-flavored melody builds until it achieves elevated sumptuous hues riding layers of iridescent keyboards.

Shirock's voice, rich and evocative, ranges from mellow melodicism tight with desire to a scrumptious falsetto, intense and focused.

"Confess Your Love" coruscates with brilliant harmonics, urgent devotion, and sublime moods in artful sequence.

Follow C. SHIROCK Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.


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Inside Indie | New York Film Festival, Week 2

The 'Best of the Fest' continues in our second breakdown

Before the best films hit the mainstream markets, they start off on the film festival circuit.

In Popdust's new column, Inside Indie, we are diving into the world of independent cinema to bring you the latest flicks coming out, in-depth reviews of some of our favorites, and exclusive interviews with the people behind them. Whether it is a foreign language film to impress your friends or a new director making his mark in drama, you will find it here.

We continue our column by taking a look at the second week of the 56th New York Film Festival. Here are the films you definitely cannot miss.

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Sports

WORLD CUP | Qualifying heats up as the U.S. leaps forward

After a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago and a draw with Mexico, the U.S. are in a great position to enter the last weeks of qualifying

U.S. star Christian Pulisic thrilled with two stunning goals against Trinidad and Tobago.

On Thursday night, the 18-year-old Pulisic continued to build his legend and the hopes of U.S. fans for a national team star.

In an important World Cup qualifying victory over Trinidad and Tobago, Christian Pulisic gave the U.S. its only two goals and a massive boost of momentum heading into Sunday night's tough Mexico match.

It was 0-0 heading into the second half but the U.S. surged in its first minutes, taking the ball to the T&T goal and earning a solid cross from Yedlin to the center of the goal where Pulisic's sliding kick delivered the first goal of the match.

Just ten minutes later, Pulisic struck again, embarrassing the T&T keeper with a hard grounder past the inside post. The youngest player to start in a World Cup qualifier for the senior U.S. team proved twice more in Thursday's match that he is skilled at a level we haven't seen in recent years in this country.

The goals gave the U.S. much-needed confidence going into Sunday night's difficult away match at Mexico City. The USMNT has never beaten Mexico in Mexico City and had only drawn twice before their thrilling, aggressive draw this weekend.

In only the sixth minute, Michael Bradley dribbled past a surprised Mexican midfield and lobbed and long chip shot over the head of the sleeping keeper to stun the home crowd. It was a sensational goal from the veteran that instantly boosted the energy of the U.S. fans and players. Like Golden State in Game 4, Mexico was suddenly playing a shocked recovery game and their blatant fouls showed how desperately they needed a quick equalizer.

Bobby Wood took pass after pass up front for the U.S. amid dangerously sloppy tackles by Mexico and an elbow to Bobby Wood's face that, commentators and reporters agreed, should have resulted in a red card against the home team in just the 4th minute. Somehow, the only cards given in the match were yellows for Arriola and Yedlin on the U.S. side.

After Bradley's 35-yard goal—with which he finally and spectacularly redeemed himself for giving the game to Portugal in Brazil, 2014—Mexico waited less than twenty minutes for an equalizer from Carlos Vela. It was a huge missed opportunity on a U.S. corner that set Mexico up with an unstoppable counter and Vela's goal.

The Mexican team continued to foul aggressively and get away with it, uncarded, while Pulisic found little room to work under heavy guarding by the opponent's midfield. Halftime brought renewed hope to both teams but neither managed another point in the extremely tense second half.

The tension was at its peak in the three minutes of penalty time, when the ref, who'd already stopped any attempt at hiding his bias, refused to blow the final whistle. The clock showed 93 minutes but the ref let Mexico continue their slow drive to the goal and take a shot. He gave them a last corner attempt but it failed and he was forced, finally, to end the game in a draw.

Where things stand in #TheHex after Sunday night's draw at Azteca. 🇺🇸📈
A post shared by U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) on Jun 12, 2017 at 12:39pm PDT

With seven straight wins or ties under their new coach, Bruce Arena, the U.S. will enter the final weeks of qualifying in September with high hopes and good chances. Now tied for second in the group (behind Mexico), the U.S. will look for more wins starting August 31 against Costa Rica. The exciting Pulisic will continue to shine as the team's most promising playmaker and scorer as the USMNT looks to lock in its spot in Russia 2018.

Follow U.S. Soccer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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