A collection of other side-projects, oddities, and enthusiasms, many involving music.


I obsessively compile and curate playlists. Here’s a generous sampling – all are on Spotify (thephilnel). 

Jeopardy? Yes, Jeopardy.

I was named in a “Daily Double” clue on the game show Jeopardy (episode of Dec. 20, 2017). I offer it as an example of life’s more pleasant surprises.

Video credit: Carl Miller
Photo credit: Catherine Strayhall.

What’s Your COVID-19 Routine?

A five-part video series created during the first three months of the pandemic (March-June 2020). The first episode:

The full What’s Your COVID-19 Routine? series in a YouTube playlist.

Plague Songs

Inspired by videos of Italians singing to or playing music for each other, I in March 2020 began posting videos of myself singing a plague-themed song (“plague-themed” very broadly conceived). For the first 22 weeks, I posted weekly. After that, I posted more irregularly – slightly less than monthly. I rehearsed each song enough to perform it. None of these are professional quality. And that’s the point. I wanted to encourage you to sing! Your performance doesn’t have to be perfect. Singing is life-affirming.

Each song has an accompanying blog post, featuring more on the song itself and other (better) versions.

My first Plague Song was Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” (17 Mar. 2020)

My 3rd: Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (31 Mar. 2020)

11th: Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” (25 May 2020)

14th: Fred Rogers’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood theme) (16 June 2020)

17th: R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” (7 July 2020)

20th: John Cage’s 4’33”

21st: Nena’s “99 Luftballons” (4 Aug. 2020)

25th: “Run on for a Long Time / God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (17 Nov. 2020)

31st: David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” (1 April 2021)

35th: “It’s a Great Life (If You Don’t Weaken),” written by Leo Robin, Richard A. Whiting, and Newell Chase. Popularized by Maurice Chevalier (30 Aug. 2021)

41st: Carsie Blanton’s “Buck Up.” I’d long intended to record this as the final in the series, but didn’t get to it until the 3rd anniversary of the pandemic’s beginning (28 March 2023).

The full Plague Songs series in a YouTube playlist.