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



Fight Songs

Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits by Year


Instrumental and Classical

  • 1980s instrumentals. 5 hours of instrumental tracks from the 1980s (&, yes, a few tracks from 1979). Very rarely, a vocal appears (Steven Tyler on “Walk This Way”), but 97% vocal-less.
  • Beethoven: The Late Piano Sonatas performed by Richard Goode, Claudio Arrau, Wilhelm Kempff, Alfred Brendel, Igor Levit, and Emil Gilels
  • Big Lazy. “Guitar Noir.” “Music to drive back to jail by.” “The bastard son of Link Wray and Jim Thompson.” These are but a few of the ways that Big Lazy’s fans have described the band’s music. This playlist includes all of their releases to date.
  • Cinemaphonic: Electro Soul & Soul Punch +. All tracks on Spotify from the compilations Cinemaphonic: Electro Soul & Cinemaphonic: Soul Punch, plus more late-1960s & 1970s film library music.
  • Concentrate: Instrumentals. Music for focusing on the task at hand.
  • GHIBLI meets JAZZ. Both GHIBLI albums from the Kazumi Tateishi Trio: GHIBLI meets JAZZ: Beautiful Songs & GHIBLI meets JAZZ: Memorable Songs. (Imagine, if you will, the Vince Guaraldi Trio performing selections from Miyazaki film soundtracks. That’s what this sounds like.)
  • Instrumentals! An expanding playlist of over 400 uptempo instrumentals.
  • Haruka Nakamura: Still Life I & II +. Solo piano pieces by Nakamura.
  • Overpowered by Funk: (Mostly) Instrumental Grooves, 1967-1975. Over five hours of instrumental funk. The Meters, Parliament, Funkadelic, Commodores, Isaac Hayes, James Brown, Kool & The Gang, Sly & The Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kashmere Stage Band, many more. Guaranteed to improve your mood & get you moving.
  • Peace Pieces. Music to calm your mind & help you unwind.
  • Quiet Piano. Ambient and jazz piano. Sometimes solo piano. Sometimes as part of a duo or trio.
  • Sax Solo. Unaccompanied sax solos. Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, Lee Konitz, Hamiet Bluett & others.
  • Fats Waller: Instrumental Favorites. Thomas “Fats” Waller (1904-1943) on piano — and sometimes on organ.

Location, Location

Seasons & Weather

Single Songs. (Each playlist is devoted to many versions of the same song.)



  • Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons! soundtrack. All of the songs in Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons!
  • Helvetica: Soundtrack. The soundtrack to the documentary film by Gary Hustwit. Featuring El Ten Eleven, Motohiro Nakashima, and others.
  • Italian Cinema, 1965-c.1976. Umiliani! Morricone! Piccioni! Film music by Italian composers, 1965-c. 1976. Inspired by — and much of its playlist drawn from — a mixtape created by Bill DeMain in the late 1990s.
  • Soul: All Music by Jon Batiste. All of Jon Batiste’s music from the film Soul.
  • Stop Making Sense (original version, 1984). The soundtrack to the Jonathan Demme concert film of Talking Heads has since been released in expanded versions. This is the original 1984 version, with only songs on that release (and in the same order as that release). So, if you want to hear the original soundtrack, this is it!


  • Cats: Everybody Wants to Be a Cat. Songs about cats – not cats as metaphor, but actual cats.
  • Coffee Break! Over 50 songs about coffee.
  • COVID-19: A Coronavirus Pandemic Playlist. 25 hours of music, many varieties, all thematically connected to the corona era. I began this playlist on March 13, 2020.
  • Days. Nearly 100 songs that reference days of the week.
  • Dogs: Everything Reminds Me of My Dog. 25 songs about dogs.
  • Eat It: Songs About Food. Over 150 songs of food (usually literally but sometimes figuratively): Nat King Cole, Ramones, Weird Al Yankovic, Mills Brothers, B-52’s, Fats Waller, Barenaked Ladies, Cab Calloway, Parry Gripp, Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, They Might Be Giants, RUN-D.M.C., Cookie Monster, Weezer, many more!
  • Film: Songs About the Movies. Cinema-themed songs, featuring the Beatles, the B-52’s, Anita O’Day, Adam Schlesinger, Public Enemy, Paul Simon, the Kinks, the Muppets, Duran Duran, Dire Straits, Steely Dan, TMBG, John Prine, the Postal Service, Gil Scott-Heron, Laurie Anderson, and many others.
  • Guitar Rocktacular. Electric guitar that rocks. 1 song per artist (guitarists appear more often). Jimi Hendrix, Dick Dale, Angus Young, Chuck Berry, John Frusciante, Vicki Peterson, Kurt Cobain, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jack White, Prince, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Joe Perry, Wayne Kramer, Eddie Van Halen, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, many others.
  • Let There Be Drums. Songs with prominent drums.
  • Life’ll Kill Ya; or, This Mortal Playlist. These are songs about reckoning with the inevitability of death. The 1st half is usually more uptempo & funny; the 2nd is more sad & reflective.
  • Night. Songs of the night. Police, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Ray Charles, Frankie Valli, Katy Perry, Madeleine Peyroux, Gladys Knight, Sam Cooke, Bob Seger, James Brown, Art Blakey, Rolling Stones, Pretenders, Morphine, Frank Ocean, Postal Service, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, R.E.M., Hem, Echo & The Bunnymen, and many others.
  • Noir. Songs that evoke the feel of film noir, including but not limited to music actually from film noir.
  • Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used to Be. Borrowing its title from Sam Phillips’ “Taking Pictures,” this playlist’s nostalgia is reflective & slightly ambivalent. Graham Parker, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Aimee Mann, Death Cab for Cutie, David Bowie, Weakerthans, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Withers, B-52s, Kinks, Clash, Beatles, R.E.M., many others.
  • Numbers. Nearly 200 songs featuring numbers.
  • Paul Simon Sings Songs About Aging and Death. The themed Paul Simon compilation you have been waiting for! (Or possibly not.)
  • Radio, Radio. 75 songs about the radio.
  • Title of the Mix. Songs about songs – a meta playlist.
  • uptempo melancholic pop