There can be nothing more personal than the perfect Valentine's Day mix tape. So we asked several creative people -- actors, writers, directors and musicians -- to write about a tape they made for someone special, or a song that proved especially lasting.

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Allison Anders

Many years ago, a man I was just getting to know gave me a most wonderful tape. I think I fell in love with him upon hearing the very first song on the A side. It was ``A Heart Needs A Home'' by Richard and Linda Thompson, one of the most romantic songs I had ever heard. It's more than a song; it's a vow, a pledge, an amazing soaring piece of emotional work from deep in the heart. Songs that filled the rest of the eclectic and warmly ironic 60-minute Sony tape were ``The Day Before You Came'' by Abba (surely the only love song in the history of pop to mention the author Marilyn French in the lyrics!). And the thrillingly flirty ``No Matter What'' by Badfinger. And a slow laconic very funny version of Van Halen's ``Jump'' by Aztec Camera and ``Keep A Lovin' Me'' by the adorably young Everly Brothers, recorded in 1956. And everyone's easy fave, ``Save It For Later'' by the English Beat. The songs this guy gave me on this tape said everything I had ever wished and dreamed someone would say to me. It was such a brilliant, witty and gorgeous collection of songs, and it did what mix tapes are meant to do -- it cast a magic spell of connection, which will never cease to be there between him and me.

Allison Anders directed such music-infused films as ``Sugar Town,'' ``Grace of My Heart'' and her latest, ``Things Behind The Sun.''

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Tiffany Anders

``Will To Love'' by Neil Young. A friend of mine introduced me to this song, and it has since appeared on many of my mixed tapes, particularly crush tapes. This song is stunning. It's beautiful both sound-wise and lyrically. The stream-of-consciousness feel and warm crackle pop sounds make for a sparse yet very warm atmosphere. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to melt when you heard it. Other mentions would be ``Blow You a Kiss in the Wind'' by Redd Kross and ``Days'' by the Kinks.

Tiffany Anders' latest album is ``Happy Cry Funny Gift''(Up). She is Allison's daughter.

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Meghan Daum

I'd start my tape with something by Jonatha Brooke. Her new album, ``Steady Pull,'' was released Tuesday. I'd start out with the title track, which is a funky R&B type of thing. Then, because my tastes are hopelessly '70s, I'd segue back in time to perhaps ``You Got the Love'' by Rufus and Chaka Khan. To save face, I would then try to get a little more current, perhaps ``Stephen's Last Night in Town'' by the Ben Folds Five, which is an exuberant klezmer-ish number featuring the Klezmatics. In a similar rhythmic vein, and yet a contrast in sensibility, I would then put Natalie Cole's totally rocking version of the gospel song ``Reverend Lee,'' followed (bear with me) by another Jonatha Brooke song, the live version of ``At the Still Point.'' Completely infectious.

But mixed tapes are supposed to be sort of depressing, right? The kind of thing you sit in your room, preferably a dorm room covered with tapestries and posters from Jim Jarmusch movies, and listen to while smoking Camel Lights. So I'd revert to the '70s and include ``Same Situation,'' which is this short, rich Joni Mitchell gem off ``Court and Spark.'' Then maybe ``River'' off ``Blue,'' just so there can be one familiar little tune. I'd follow Joni's ``River'' with Dianne Reeves' absolutely gorgeous version of the same song. And because I'm too lazy to change CDs, I'd then put in Reeves' version of Leonard Cohen's ``Suzanne.'' And since we're doing covers, I'd then perhaps include Rickie Lee Jones' version of ``Walk Away Renee,'' which is really strange and dissonant.

So now that we've descended into the depths of self-pity, there's a great song called ``Digs'' from a 1998 album by Tom Freund called ``North American Long Weekend.'' It's kind of bluesy/funky Tom Waits-y. The line is: ``If you don EXTCHARt like the digs you can find someplace else,'' which leads right into the last track of my mixed tape, David Poe's ``Apartment.'' This is a wry, haunting, mellow bossa-nova-sounding song about the inability of the human heart to accept another person into our personal space.

Meghan Daum's ``My Misspent Youth: Essays'' (Open City) will be published next month.

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Nick Hornby

``Let's Get It On'' might be a bit presumptuous to begin it with. But I would use a lot of Al Green. There are a couple of Ron Sexsmith songs that would be great. Teenage Fanclub is really good when the relationship has been established for a while. But the best Valentine's Day tape would at least build toward ``Let's Get It On'' at the end.

Nick Hornby is the author of ``High Fidelity.''