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5 Latin Songs, Engineered To Cheer You Up

Celia Cruz, the queen of salsa.
Courtesy of the artist.
Celia Cruz, the queen of salsa.

In spite of our many musical variations, one thing that seems to unite Latin Americans is our love of suffering in song — the gusto with which we sprinkle musical salt in our wounds. "Perfidia" is one of the best known love ballads of Latin America, and its words paint a terrifying portrait of anxiety and abandonment: "Nobody knows how much I suffer / I sing because I cannot sob / I shake, alone, anxiously / Everyone looks at me and walks away."

We've talked a lot about these love songs, and about cortavenas (vein slashers), so we're doing something different today. We wanted to create a playlist that doubles as a pick-me-up. So we asked Alt.Latino listeners: What do you listen to when you want to stop feeling down and out? We were flooded with suggestions — we might have to record a sequel to this episode — and ended up with a great show in which we play music from a legendary Mexican rock band, a newer Chilean folk artist and, of course, the queen of salsa, the goddess Celia Cruz. Because, as one of our listeners pointed out, if she doesn't make you smile, you might not have actual blood running in your veins.

As always, please help us keep the conversation going: Tell us what songs you pull out when you need to feel a little better.

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Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.