Last week I sent an email to about friends

...relatives, ex-boyfriends, new friends, old friends, and people I hardly know but thought would have good answers, asking "I'm making a list for my Moistworks Valentine's Day post...what are your favorite love and anti-love songs...?"

My main reason for asking was that I was curious to see how certain people would respond. Who would ignore it, thinking "What a stupid question." Or, who would ask "Don't all songs fit into one category or the other?" Who would respond immediately with a long, rambling list, or who would write, also immediately, with "I need to think."

My people did not disappoint; I got all of the above. Al Green (obviously) and Ween (awesomely) showed up on several lists. Bob Dylan, yes (and even I, with vast ambivalence about him, am torn apart by the last line of this song). Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra, Throbbing Gristle, Monochrome Set, Judas Priest, Orange Juice, Sebadoh, Van Halen, and the Buzzcocks, yes, yes, yes. But the best answers, which I did not anticipate, were those songs that would make absolutely no sense to anyone but me, due only to the nature of my relationship with the responder.

"Sea of Love" fits squarely into the last sentence. "That was the day I knew you were my pet," does not typically ring the bell of today's modern woman, yet the man who named that song has sent me so far to the brink of sanity and submissive lust that I could do nothing but nod and drool and wonder which version to use here. (Of course I opted for the one he had specified.) The Pet Shop Boys version of "Always on My Mind," could only be on the list of the man who held my hand at a concert in an airplane hangar in Berlin, as both of our jaws dropped at the odd and scary sight of a thousand German fists banging the air to the rhythm. "Halah" by Mazzy Star would be merely a pretty, dreamy whine were it not for the fact that the record was played over and over again to mask the sounds of the first great sex I ever had. "Kath" was mentioned by both a close friend who knows I wrote a poem after it in college and a man who has no idea how much my heart aches for him whenever I hear it.

All this to say: Love is such a specific, alchemical thing, that to merely hear someone else sing about his/her love for yet someone else doesn't quite register. To me, a love song is all about association. But anti-love, that's another story. Gut-tearing, nauseating rejection and loss, now that is indeed universal. Here, though, is where my friends did disappoint, and where I, for fear of breaking down into a quivering wreck before finishing this post, have failed. This is what I leave to you, dear readers. Tell me the saddest (or angriest) love songs you know, and by sunset (just in time for the east coasters to burn a mix for their dinnertime sweetie), I'll post a handful here.