'La Llorona': A Spooky Folk Song With Many Lives : Alt.Latino Just in time for Día de los Muertos, here are 12 versions of an old song that still frightens. Hear "La Llorona" performed by Chavela Vargas, Lila Downs, Mariachi Flor de Toloache and more.
NPR logo 'La Llorona': A Spooky Folk Song With Many Lives

'La Llorona': A Spooky Folk Song With Many Lives

An actor dresses as La Llorona at a celebration Oct. 31, 2015 in Guatemala City. Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

An actor dresses as La Llorona at a celebration Oct. 31, 2015 in Guatemala City.

Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

Just about everyone of a certain age who grew up in a Latinx household can attest to the power of the tale of La Llorona as a disciplinary tool at bedtime. "You better go to sleep or La Llorona will come into your room and take you away!" is what many of us heard as we hid our heads under the covers.

The tale has an old folk song that goes along with it, and what better musical backdrop for NPR's The Salt's presentation of Día de los Muertos? (Tune in around 1 p.m. ET on NPR's Facebook page to watch.)

So here is a list — by no means definitive — of some favorite versions of "La Llorona," and even a few surprising renditions. Warning: Do not listen to this playlist at night. With the wind blowing. And with creepy noises just outside your window.

Just sayin'.

Hear The Songs

Frida. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Chavela Vargas

  • Song: La Llorona
  • from Frida
YouTube

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Song
Frida
Album
Frida
Artist
Chavela Vargas
Label
Orfeon
Released
2003

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Lola Beltrán

  • Song: Llorona
  • from Concierto en Vivo en Belles Artes, Vol. 2
YouTube

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Song
Concierto en Vivo en Belles Artes, Vol. 2
Album
Concierto en Vivo en Belles Artes, Vol. 2
Artist
Lola Beltran
Label
Sony Music Distribution
Released
1995

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El Jinete. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Lucha Villa

  • Song: La Llorona
  • from El Jinete
YouTube

Lila Downs Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Lila Downs

  • Song: La Llorona
  • from Alma de Lila Downs
YouTube

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Ely Guerra

  • Song: Llorona
  • from Bimexicano Nuestros Clasicos Hechos Rock
YouTube

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Song
Bimexicano Nuestros Clasicos Hechos Rock
Album
Bimexicano Nuestros Clasicos Hechos Rock
Artist
Various Artists
Label
Nacional Records
Released
2010

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Sofía Rei

  • Song: Llorona
  • from De Tierra Y Oro
YouTube

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Song
De Tierra Y Oro
Album
De Tierra Y Oro
Artist
Sofia Rei
Label
Lilihouse Music
Released
2012

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Mariachi Flor de Toloache

  • Song: La Llorona
  • from Mariachi Flor De Toloache
YouTube

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Magos & Limón

  • Song: Llorona
  • from Dawn
YouTube

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Song
Dawn
Album
Dawn
Artist
Magos & Limón
Label
OKeh Records
Released
2014

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Charles Lloyd & The Marvels

  • Song: Llorona
  • from I Long to See You
YouTube

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Song
I Long to See You
Album
I Long to See You
Artist
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels
Label
Blue Note
Released
2016

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Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds

  • Song: Llarona
  • from Dracula Boots
YouTube

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Song
Dracula Boots
Album
Dracula Boots
Artist
Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds
Label
In The Red Records
Released
2009

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Caifanes

  • Song: Llorona
  • from Nervio del Volcan
YouTube

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Song
Nervio del Volcan
Album
Nervio del Volcan
Artist
Caifanes
Label
International Music
Released
1994

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Francisco Javier Lledías

  • Song: La Llorona
  • from La Llorona
YouTube