Alt.Latino's Annual Sonic Altar : Alt.Latino In what's become an annual Día de los Muertos tradition, we play music and personal dedications honoring the departed.

Honor the Departed in Our Annual Sonic Altar

Honor the Departed in Our Annual Sonic Altar

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A Day of the Dead altar at a public shrine in the historic city center of Oaxaca, Mexico. Gabriel Perez/Getty Images hide caption

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Gabriel Perez/Getty Images

A Day of the Dead altar at a public shrine in the historic city center of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Gabriel Perez/Getty Images

2021 has proved to be an incredibly difficult year for many. The pandemic has ravaged our communities, leaving behind so much grief and loss in its wake.

Here at Alt.Latino we have made it a tradition to remember those who have passed on for Día de los Muertos. We are well aware of music's potency and ability to heal. Songs can hold onto the granular parts of the people we've loved in ways that can jog our memories and keep their legacies with us. Grief can rob us of so much, but music can help us reclaim small moments of joy.

So in our annual sonic altar commemorating Día de los Muertos, we remember our own friends and family members in the form of dedications that some listeners were generous enough to share with us.

The core of Día de los Muertos is the duality of life and death, and how both are always with us. The Nahuatl people of present-day Mexico believed in such a saying: "I am alive. I am dead. But, in both cases, I am." We hope that this phrase can grant you a bit of peace this year as we honor the lives of those we have lost.


"If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Dedicated to Jane and Mark Duncan by Jen Spieler

"Jane lost her husband Mark last Friday (married around 20 years) after a two year battle with kidney cancer. Jason Isbell was a favorite artist of Mark's. Mark was always the clown, the jokester of any group. The world feels dimmer without his presence. I want to wish Jane love, peace and strength as she battles through this transition with her kids. She has an army of friends and family who love her dearly."


"Knockando" by Michael Hurley

Dedicated to Chris Neumann by Ryan Schoenberg

"Chris was my cousin and hero. A musician himself, he introduced me to Michael Hurley. Chris had a soul that made you remark just like Michael Hurley sings 'You are the fire, the spirit fire, your soul is burning good.' He burned bright and beautiful and his flame is sorely missed."


"Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day

Dedicated to Stephen Michael King by Julie Tyner

"My nephew took his own life in July. It's like a bad dream. He would have been 30 in September."


"Gema" by Javier Solís

Dedicated to Frances Alonso by Addi Alonso-Macias

"This is for my Mom who passed away 3/23/2012 this was her favorite song, my Dad serenaded her to get her to marry him. Some days are easier than others. But it still feels like yesterday. The first time I had to add her picture to my altar tore my heart."


"You Had Me from Hello" by Kenny Chesney

Dedicated to Bill Robbins by Erica Robbins

"Now that my dad has passed, I am realizing more and more each day how much he loved me, how much he cared for me, and the struggles he had in showing me that. I remember him singing this song while driving us around when I was younger; he sang the words with his deep baritone voice and even though we both pretended he was singing those words for his girlfriend, I know now they were for me. From the moment I was born, we had each other from hello. <3"


"La Llorona" by Chavela Vargas

Dedicated to Hugo Barbosa Rincon by Hugo Barbosa

"This is the one for Day of the Dead. It's not a Mariachi song, just check the lyrics; 'What do the cemetery flowers have, you crier, that when the wind moves them, they seem to cry.'"


"Ya No Es Lo Mismo" by Daniel, Me Estás Matando

Dedicated to Aurora by Adry Cantu

"These new boleros remind me of my grandmother, Aurora. She was my introduction to boleros and these new ones fill me with nostalgia and happiness to know boleros classic and new will live on."


"Every Time" by Field Report

Dedicated to Steven Crane by Stacy Davidson

"The first time I heard this song I thought of Steven. He was the last person who shared a frame of reference with me of growing up in our hometown. The sense of contemplation, perfection and imperfection of memories, and lack of resolution at the end encapsulate volumes in my struggle to process his loss."


"Recuerdos" by The Mavericks

Dedicated to Diane Paxton by Greg Scearce

"A most beautiful song about fond memories."


"May Sun" by Lucille Dupin

Dedicated to Tatiana Solano by Lucille Dupin

"This song talks about a sun that shines thought the darkest of times, and she will forever be my sun, and the one who will show me the best path. I just love her."


"Know Who You Are At Every Age" by Cocteau Twins

Dedicated to Lee Ann Perry by Jill Hearst

"Lee Ann Perry and her husband, Don, loved Halloween in all its costumey ghoulishness and gothic references. They also held a deep reverence for the departed. Both of them are now departed/together. And the ethereal sounds of the Cocteau Twins straddle both those worlds, while the song's lyrics are grief lessons for the living."


"Feed the Fire" by Freddy Hall

Dedicated to Austin by Evan Garcia

"I discovered this song on Spotify and the lyrics are eerily similar to what I imagine my brother Austin must have felt before he took his life in December. I wish I could have understood what he was going through so I could have at least empathized better."


"El Que Se Tenga Por Grande" by Carmen Linares

Dedicated to Cloto, Láquesis y Átropos by Manuel Burón

"Cante hondo. Estoicismo musical."


"Dame Tu Amor" by Ariel & The Culture

Dedicated to Leticia Duran by Jason Bobadilla

"This song is about learning how to be alone in the absence of your love. Could be a partner, a mother, a friend: this song is the song that plays at the end of the movies right before the lights come on."