Skip to content
Web-Only Feature

Butterflies, Breakups, and Breakthroughs

A Playlist on Love

by Rissi Palmer

My first exposure to the concept of love was memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 in Sunday school. Even as a little girl, the idea of a love that was patient, kind, selfless, and unconditional sounded like something I wanted to be a part of. Later on, Disney movies and fairy tales filled my tiny head with the dream of a prince on a white horse, coming to take me away into the happily ever after. But then, I had my first crush, which led to my first heartbreak, which led to my questioning of what exactly “love” means and why anyone would subject themselves to it.

At 40, after failed relationships, loss of loved ones, a marriage going on 12 years, two daughters, a few amazing, trustworthy friends, and years of living in this ever-changing world of ours, love looks less like Cinderella and Prince Charming and a lot more like 1 Corinthians to me. Love is forgiveness. It’s Saturday nights spent on the couch sweating because your 10-year-old and 2-year-old want to be as close as humanly possible to you. Love is firm boundaries that sometimes hurt but always protect. It’s sticky fingers cupping your face for a wet kiss. It’s saying you’re sorry even when you’re still angry (and still believe you were right!). It’s seeing beyond words that bite to the real source of pain and finding the capacity to understand. Love is knowing when to walk away, saving, and loving, yourself first. Love is easy full body laughter whenever you remember “that one time.”  It’s a silent glance at your friend, who knows exactly what you’re saying. Love can be messy, inconvenient, and not at all what you thought it would look like—sometimes all at once.

The following playlist reflects the often-complicated, disappointing, revelatory, sexy, and revolutionary way that love affects each one of us. These are songs that carried me through butterflies, breakups, and breakthroughs.

The daughter of Georgia natives, Rissi Palmer was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent her adolescent years in St. Louis, Missouri. Her albums include Rissi Palmer, Best Day Ever, and Revival. As a passionate voice for country artists of color and those who have been marginalized in mainstream country music, Palmer launched her own radio show Color Me Country with Rissi Palmer on Apple Music Country. Palmer also created the  Color Me Country Artist Grant Fund designed to support new country artists of color who are just beginning to build their music careers. For more, visit

Subscribe today!

One South, a world of stories. Delivered in four print issues a year.