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


  • Go! Songs about traveling. Suitable for children & the adults in their lives.
  • Home, vol. 1. Recreation of a mix for children, limited by what Spotify has.
  • Home, vol. 2. Another recreated mix, within Spotify’s limitations.
  • Nonsense. Whimsical songs with vocals. The “lyrics” are either entirely or mostly nonsense. Mostly because the Mills Brothers do sing, “Oh, that Tiger,” Lionel Hampton’s band practices spelling, Al Jarreau goes so far as to sing some intelligible sentences, & 2 others here sing in languages I don’t speak.



Fight Songs

Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits by Year


Instrumental and Classical

  • 1980s instrumentals. 6 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.
  • Morricone! Mostly instrumental favorites from Ennio Morricone soundtracks, plus a few covers at the end.
  • Haruka Nakamura: Still Life I & II +. Still Life I and Still Life II, plus other 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.
  • Django Reinhardt: quieter songs.
  • Sax Solo. Unaccompanied sax solos. Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, Lee Konitz, Hamiet Bluett & others.
  • Take Four: Afternoon Coffee Break Instrumentals. All uptempo instrumentals, many genres (jazz, ’80s synth pop, surf/rockabilly, soul, funk, electronica). Some familiar tunes. Some not.
  • Fats Waller: Instrumental Favorites. Thomas “Fats” Waller (1904-1943) on piano — and sometimes on organ.

Location, Location

Mix Tapes

On the Shortness of Life

Seasons & Weather

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




  • Cats: Everybody Wants to Be a Cat. Songs about cats – not cats as metaphor, but actual cats.
  • Coffee Break! Over 50 songs about coffee.
  • Corporate Melancholy: Everything Must Go. Version of a mix created for Andrew Burke’s “Abandoned Targets of Canada” Tumblr, documenting the 133 Target stores that opened — and then, within 2 years — all closed. (“Version” because Dragonette’s cover of “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” isn’t on Spotify; so, that’s been cut.)
  • Days. Over 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!
  • Elvis Is Everywhere. Over 40 songs about Elvis Presley, including: Dire Straits, Living Colour, Colorblind James Experience, Proclaimers, Waterboys, Wynonna, Patty Loveless, Kirsty MacColl, Kacey Musgraves, Alannah Myles, Emmylou Harris, Jarvis Cocker, Steve Goodman, Roy Orbison, Paul Simon, Greg Brown, John Hiatt, Scouting for Girls, Belle and Sebastian, Was (Not Was) with Leonard Cohen, and others!
  • Fast lyrics. Gift of Gab, Jaz-O, R.E.M., Daveed Diggs, Ana Gasteyer, Robert Preston, Lambert, Hendrix, & Ross — and others who can sing quickly!
  • 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.
  • In These Shoes? “I said: ‘In these shoes? I doubt you’d survive.’ I said: ‘Honey, let’s do it.'” This is not a mix about footwear.
  • JFK, 22 Nov. 1963. Songs that reference (directly or more obliquely) the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963).
  • Let There Be Drums. Songs with prominent drums.
  • The Moon: Songs About the Moon. Includes some songs on the “Night” mix (below) and some not.
  • 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. Over 200 songs featuring numbers.
  • Radio, Radio. Over 75 songs about the radio.
  • Title of the Mix. Over 40 songs about songs – a meta playlist.
  • uptempo melancholic pop
  • Weekend! “It’s Friday again. It’s Saturday, Sunday. What?” A playlist made for my sister, niece, brother-in-law & all who like to head out of town for the weekend.