Love and heartbreak: A Valentine’s Day playlist

Happy Valentine’s!

Or not.

Since we are pretty much commanded, today, to think about love, our thoughts run to a sweet bit of poetry called Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Familiar? Goes like this: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.


And true.

For every person who finds themselves in love today, there’s someone else who does not. And next Valentine’s, it could all flip; does all the time. See, we all know Valentine’s is silly and manufactured, yet it inevitably culls up the deepest and rawest of emotions and there’s only one way to properly address that kind of stuff and it ain’t with a drug store candy sampler.

To get to the heart of the day’s duality, we asked a few folks these simple questions:

You’re in love and you are making a mixtape for the object of your affection. What is the first track?


You’re heartbroken and you are making a mixtape for the person who broke your heart. What is the first track?

Their answers were heartfelt and wide-ranging (check out the entire Spotify playlist here). We want to know what your choices would be. Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let us know.

And Happy Valentine’s!

Or not.

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Michelle Steilin aka Estro Jen | Founder, Moxie Skates

“La Vie En Rose,” because when I’m in love I see the world in pink; I float from place to place behind rose-colored glasses!

I listen to Blackwater Holylight. When someone breaks my heart, I’m starting over on Day One. I’m throwing out the bed, burning the gifts, breaking framed photos. I’m fast to move the fuck on! Nothing’s better than an all-girl ensemble of rage.

Ebony Utley | Author “He Cheated, She Cheated, We Cheated,” Professor, Cal State Long Beach

“Nothing Even Matters” by Lauryn Hill. It describes that blissful state where nothing matters more than the object of your affection. What she describes is wildly impractical, but alas, so is love.

“Breakdown” by Mariah Carey. For everyone who didn’t want the person who broke up with them to know how much it hurt.

Senay Kenfe | Founder, Eddie’s Liquor collective

Sa-Ra being the quintessential LA group capable of setting the tone, this song always reminds me of spring and the beginning of love, when we find ourselves most optimistic about where our feelings are taking us.

I’ve very rarely been able to hear pain in the manner exhibited by Loleatta in this song. When the door is closed there’s a finality there that is so often not understood.

Jennifer Rivera | Executive Director, CEO, Long Beach Opera

For just falling in love, a beautiful song by Franz Schubert called “Du Bist Die Ruh.” I chose this song because it is a beautiful song about how love can inspire you to feel amazing. Du bist die Ruh means “You are my rest.. ” then it goes on to say you are longing, and what stills it… and ends with: “The temple of my eyes is lit by your radiance alone. Oh fill it wholly.” The original German poem is by Rueckert, who could be very romantic. This track is sung by the American soprano Barbara Bonney.

For the breakup aria, I can’t help it, I’m sending an aria from an opera recording that I sang on—Grammy nominated!—because it’s the perfect vengeance song if there ever was one. It’s from Handel’s opera “Agrippina” and it’s called “Come nube che fugge dal vento.” This is sung by Nero (yes, the one who burned Rome) after the woman who he thinks is supposed to be his girlfriend dumps him. The Italian words translate as “Like a cloud that flees from the wind, I abandon the face that scorns me!” Yes, this is really is me singing in my days before I was sitting behind the desk.

Mike Watt | Musician

For your first question, my cover of Roky Erickson’s “Sweet Honey Pie” by me and The Missingmen.

For your second question, my cover of Captain Beefheart’s “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains” by me and The Black Gang.

[Steve Lowery] Great! Mike, can you give me a sentence or two explaining why?

Steve, why? Cuz I just do. Sheesh.

Griselda Suarez | Executive Director, Arts Council For Long Beach

“Te quiero” by Hombres G. I was a tween when I first heard this song while on vacation in Mexico. I recorded it off the radio and brought it back to L.A. It is relentless in its message: all-consuming love.

“Losing my Religion” by REM. The song that can take every hopeless romantic to a deep dark place. If you confessed too much or shared too much of your love, this song accompanies your sorrow.

Ayden Erlas | Bicycle Mechanic, Pedal Movement

No, I just don’t have a love song. That’s not my thing.

For a breakup, “Outro” by Bandhunta Izzy. First, because he’s from my hometown of Baltimore. Next, because it kind of brings me up and reminds me to keep to myself. It’s more about taking care of yourself than being mad at anyone.

Nancy Woo | Poet

I’m pretty far in love. It would be Chris Malinchak, “So Good To Me.” This song makes me cry every time, those too-sappy-happy-to-be-true kind of tears. I’m in a relationship with someone who is good to me, over and over again, day in and day out. I’ve been in some very mean relationships, and this song is a celebration of all the healing my partner and I have both done to meet each other in a healthy, loving space. It’s important to be kind to the people you say you love.

Heartbreak, that’s a little harder, but here we go. Gotye, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” This song was playing incessantly, everywhere I went, during the most painful breakup of my life—I couldn’t escape it! This was an everything-everywhere-stopped, debilitating kind of breakup that left me sobbing at all hours of the day. I believed I was madly in love forever, that my life would stop without him, that we had to be together. As it turns out, we were very dysfunctionally attached, but I was devastated to feel like I had lost my best friend, that he’d eventually become just somebody that I used to know.

Dirty Patti | Journalist Puppet 

I would never go “heavy” on a first mixed tape. Instead, I’d use it to prolong that sweet dance of new love which is tender, flirty and mostly naked.

I’ve actually listened to this song on repeat after a breakup- because sometimes shade and disdain feel so much better than wanting to cry in your cereal each morning. Breakups are about self-preservation. Call Tyrone! It hurts!

June Diaz | Dating columnist, Long Beach Post

For my love song, I chose Public Image Limited’s “This Is Not a Love Song.” It has nothing to do with love. John Lydon wrote it when the corporates of a record company asked him to write a love song. I suppose it spoke to my inner cynic as a young girl. The anti-love song, love song.

Of course, now that I have thought about it, my favorite love songs of all? The ones that can translate to all things one loves. Example: “Can’t take my eyes off of you,” a song that makes me smile when I think of anyone/thing that captures my heart—God, my daughter, my romantic love.

“You’re just too good to be true/Can’t take my eyes off you/You’d be like heaven to touch/I wanna hold you so much”

I sang this to my daughter when she was newborn, I sang this figuratively to God as I embraced a new positive chapter in my life and I sang this to my lover when gloriously in love.

Too deep? Eh, so is love.

My breakup song is “If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)” by Maria McKee.

“If we played even, I’d be your queen/ But someone was cheatin’/ And it wasn’t me/ I played on the table/ You held something back/ If love is aces, gimme the jack”

Haunting lyrics about sweet love gone sour, sung with a twang that strums in the same tempo of a broken heart. I just think this song embraces what it feels to be brokenhearted. My favorite line: “If love is a shelter/ I’m gonna walk in the rain.”

Horsey Horseshoe | Community Mascot

This song makes me think of that beginning lovey dovey phase where you don’t know if you’ll end up together, but you’re a big impact in each others’ lives.

That one Spanish song that brings out the heartbreak in every Mexican after some Don Julio.

Satica | Musician

When I think of my absolutely favorite love song, I automatically think of the oh-too-sweet “Cater 2 You” by Destiny’s Child. This song exemplifies the attributes of the ultimate giver and a type of love that would make someone go to the ends of the earth to make their lover happy. If the romantic fairy tale movie was a song, it would be this in every way.

In contrast, heartbreak, the type of love that can leave you feeling shattered into a million pieces, the first song I immediately thought of was actually a song that I wrote at 4 a.m.; alone and overwhelmed with sadness. It’s called “Agave Nights.” Every time I listen and sing that song live, it brings me back to that exact moment in my tiny apartment, completely restless, playing my keyboard, eyes welled up and singing my emotions away at the top of my lungs.

Jasmine Naea | Competitive Cyclist, Team Peach Cycling

It’s “Potential” by Summer Walker. It’s really beautifully done. It’s about that point in a relationship when everything is potential, at that early point where everything is great. It’s when you are IN love. Before you get your heart broken.

Heartbreak is “I thought I knew you,” by Nicki Minaj and The Weekend. It’s just about thinking you know someone, you know, when you’re in the first stages that you think you know them, and then you find out who they actually are.

Tim Grobaty | Columnist, Long Beach Post

“A Case of You,” by Joni Mitchell. She’s written so many perfect songs, from folk to jazz, but her “Blue” period is generally considered the peak of her career, and “A Case of You” is one of the high points of the album. It’s a strange love song because it’s written after her break-up with Graham Nash, but her love is still the dominating theme, with its perfect line in the chorus: “I could drink a case of you/and I’d still be on my feet.” And the verse line, “Love is touching souls/surely you’ve touched mine.” So, yeah, a wistful break-up song, but one filled with love, as lost as it is.

“Nothing Compares 2 U,” by Sinead O’Connor. Again, this song, written by Prince, works as both a love and break-up song, but for those of us who take comfort in wrapping ourselves in a cozy blanket of grief after a break-up, it hits the spots with its see-sawing between sorrow and rage. The title gives the song a hint at a love song, but lines like “All the flowers that you planted /All died when you went away” leave no doubt that this is a break-up song.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.