Hear A Valentine's Day Playlist: Songs For Love And Breakups : All Songs Considered This Valentine's Day, we wanted to know: Can the same song be both a great love song and a breakup song?
NPR logo Between Love And Hate: A Valentine's Day Playlist

Between Love And Hate: A Valentine's Day Playlist

A photo of the Ribaudo family tomb in the Staglieno Cimitero Monumentale in Genoa, Italy was used as the cover art for Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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It's no question that people love to write songs about, well, love. These songs come in forms as varied as the artists who pen them: bitter breakup ballads; euphoric memories of puppy-dog infatuation; reflections on unrequited affection. But if love and hate exist on a spectrum, most songs seem to find themselves on one side or the other.

When we conducted an online poll last week asking for your favorite love and breakup songs, we were surprised to see many people picking the very same song for both categories, which got us thinking... Can the same song be both a great love song AND a breakup song?

So, Bob Boilen posed the question on social media, asking you to tell us a song that is both a great love song and a great breakup song. Below, we've compiled the most frequently suggested tracks. With gut-wrenching lyricism and timeless melodic structure, these are the versatile standards that deserve heavy rotation at any point in a relationship.

Between Love And Hate: A Valentine's Day Playlist

Joy Division cover art
Courtesy of the artist

Love Will Tear Us Apart

  • by Joy Division

"When routine bites hard / And ambitions are low / And resentment rides high / But emotions won't grow / And we're changing our ways / Taking different roads / Love, love will tear us apart again"

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Song
Permanent
Album
Permanent
Artist
Joy Division
Label
Qwest/Warner Bros.

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Cover for Blood on the Tracks

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

  • by Bob Dylan

"Dragon clouds so high above / I've only known careless love / It always has hit me from below / But this time around it's more correct / Right on target, so direct / You're gonna make me lonesome when you go"

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Song
Blood on the Tracks
Album
Blood on the Tracks
Artist
Bob Dylan
Label
Columbia
Released
1975

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Cover for So Tonight That I Might See

Fade Into You

  • by Mazzy Star

"I want to hold the hand inside you / I want to take the breath that's true / I look to you and I see nothing / I look to you to see the truth"

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Song
So Tonight That I Might See
Album
So Tonight That I Might See
Artist
Mazzy Star
Label
Capitol

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Cover for Sky Blue Sky

Either Way

  • by Wilco

"Maybe you still love me, maybe you don't / Either you will or you won't / Maybe you just need some time alone / I will try to understand / Everything has its plan / Either way I'm going to stay right for you"

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Song
Sky Blue Sky
Album
Sky Blue Sky
Artist
Wilco
Label
Nonesuch
Released
2007

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Cover for Still Crazy After All These Years

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

  • by Paul Simon

"The problem is all inside your head she said to me / The answer is easy if you take it logically / I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free / There must be fifty ways to leave your lover"

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Song
Still Crazy After All These Years
Album
Still Crazy After All These Years
Artist
Paul Simon
Label
WEA
Released
1975

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Cover for Back to Black

Love Is a Losing Game

  • by Amy Winehouse

"For you I was the flame / Love is a losing game / Five story fire as you came / Love is losing game"

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Song
Back to Black
Album
Back to Black
Artist
Amy Winehouse
Label
Republic
Released
2007

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Cover for I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got

Nothing Compares 2 U

  • by Sinéad O'Connor

"Since you been gone I can do whatever I want / I can see whomever I choose / I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing / I said nothing can take away these blues / 'Cause nothing compares/ Nothing compares to you"

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Song
I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
Album
I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
Artist
Sinéad O'Connor
Label
Ensign/Chrysalis
Released
1990

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Cover for Learning to Crawl

Thin Line Between Love and Hate

  • by The Pretenders

"The sweetest woman in the world / Can be the meanest woman in the world / If you make her that way, you keep on hurting her / She keeps being quiet / She might be holding something inside / That really really hurt you one day"

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Song
Learning to Crawl
Album
Learning to Crawl
Artist
The Pretenders
Label
Rhino/Warner Bros.
Released
1984

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The full list on songs can be found on NPR Music's Spotify page.