puzzle 9:00, meta 5-7 minutes (Matt)
After missing last month’s MMMM I was highly motivated to redeem myself, and I did just that! The puzzle took 9 minutes and the meta just 5 or 6, but I did sort of luck out; could’ve taken an hour if my eye hadn’t caught one critical word at a critical moment.
This month Pete asks us to name a well-known Beatles song, and the grid appeared to (and indeed did) house four theme entries:
20-a [#1 hit from 1966, with “The”] = SOUNDS OF SILENCE, by Simon & Garfunkel
33-a [1973 song that was reworked to become a 1997 #1] = CANDLE IN THE WIND, by Elton John
41-a [1979 tune that’s #321 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time (but never charted)] = COMFORTABLY NUMB by last month’s meta group, Pink Floyd. 25 years ago I owned this song on a cassette tape single (flipside was “Run Like Hell”)
55-a [#1 hit from 1974 from a one-hit wonder] = SEASONS IN THE SUN by one-hit wonder Terry Jacks.
The first thing I noticed was that the first song was by PAUL Simon & Art Garfunkel, and that the second was by Elton JOHN. Since we were looking for a Beatles song I was sure this had something to do with it. But there’s no George or Ringo in Pink Floyd, and something I’m learning about solving metas is that if it’s not working then let it go, so I did.
I was familiar with each of these songs, but less so with the last one than the iconic first three. So I decided to Google its lyrics, and noticed that it included the line “Goodbye, Michelle, my little one.” Well “Michelle” is of course a well-known Beatles song, but I couldn’t think of it mentioned anywhere in any of the other three. I was just about to click off the lyrics page when my eye landed on that very sad first line of the song:
Goodbye to you, my trusted friend/we’ve known each other since we were nine or ten.
There’s that word again, Goodbye, and as the first line in the song. What about the other three songs’ opening lines? They’re all as iconic as the songs themselves:
“Hello darkness, my old friend…”
“Goodbye, Norma Jean…”
“Hello, is there anybody in there…?”
“Goodbye to you, my trusted friend…”
So there it is: the meta answer is “Hello, Goodbye,” their #1 hit off “Magical Mystery Tour.”
I liked this meta a lot. It wasn’t obvious and if I hadn’t happened to notice that “Goodbye” it would’ve taken me a lot longer than five minutes. The idea of using the first word of each song is excellent, and it can’t have been easy to come up with four famous songs that fit the pattern and contain exactly 15 letters each. 4.5 stars and a “bravo” from me — actually let’s make it 4.55 since the title “Take It From the Top” is perfect: means nothing until after you’ve got it, when its meaning becomes obvious. And it’s a musical phrase to boot! So 4.57 stars.
I listened to 5 or 6 covers and this was the best one. Enjoy it and I’ll see you back here for episode 8 of the Muller Monthly Music Meta in early December.
I am so glad I figured this one out. It took me several hours, though. I studied the wikipedia pages for all four songs intently, and browsed a list of Beatles songs, as well as looking for extra letters that could belong at “the top” of the grid. (Stang for mustang seemed suspicious but that didn’t lead anywhere.) But the title did help me eventually, as I realized that two of the songs began with “hello” and “goodbye”. I had to search lyrics to confirm the other two, but the “aha” moment when I realized I was onto something was just golden. That’s why I spend so long sometimes on these.
I had the same thought on STANG. It sounded plausible as a nickname for a Mustang but I was thinking we were going to be putting letters on top of the grid.
The key for me (after a few days of dead ends) was the clue “First title words of an iconic Simon & Garfunkel song.” Since another S & G song was in the grid, I assumed that that clue plus the title of the puzzle was the right approach. I really like metas like this, where once you know the answer, it seems simple, but if you’re stuck, it feels impossible.
93 correct solvers this week.
Tim & Karen – that “aha” moment is exactly what I am aiming for – glad it worked for you this month!
I will be announcing a theme-constructing contest tomorrow in my write-up.
I was thrown off initially because I know the first theme-entry song as [THE] SOUND OF SILENCE, singular. I thought this was going to be one of those metas, like Gaffney’s recent Sue Grafton puzzle, where mistakes are deliberately built into the puzzle and you have to find them. I spent too much time on this theory before discovering that THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE was the original title and it was changed to the singular only on later releases.
Then I started thinking maybe the answer was songs initially known by other titles, and I started to wonder if perhaps CANDLE IN THE WIND had once been titled “Goodbye Norma Jean.” But then that “Goodbye” hit me between the eyes and I had it. Great meta.
Knowing the first lines of the first three songs (only knowing the chorus of the 4th) as well as the meta song helped to secure this one pretty quickly. Nice departure from my recent meta-struggles, and an enjoyably hidden answer. I suppose whenever specific songs and/or artists are involved, searching for details of both may help uncover an answer if the grid and clues don’t reveal anything.
Of course there’s both solved meta and Beatle bias at play here too, but such is life :).
I like the meta but docked the puzzle one star for the fill. GARO, NUMA, EAS??
GARO was deliberate…but that’s because I still remember the play mentioned in the clue all these years later. NAMU and EAS were unfortunate, and happened when I realized at the last minute that my fill had NUMB crossing COMFORTABLY NUMB (oops!)
I thought this was too simple and settled for another answer: I took the initials “SOS” from “the top” entry, “Sounds of Silence” and answered “Help!”
Was NEVER going to happen for me, and too bad, because that would definitely have been an AHA moment. Pretty hard to get the meta when you know a grand total of one of the four songs! :)
My initial thought was that the four theme entries each had a contradictory nature – so I thought of Hello Goodbye, as well as Eight Days a Week. But it wasn’t a satisfying link at all. The next logical step for me, after looking at the titles, was to look at the lyrics. Then it fell pretty quickly.
I submitted Help, more as a request than a solution!