puzzle 6:07; meta 3 minutes (Matt)
With seven hours left until deadline, just 28 solvers have cracked the November Muller Meta. Instructions ask for a Fleetwood Mac song, and Pete has given us a 17×15 grid with no obvious theme entries.
The first thing I did after solving was “free scan” the grid, looking for anything that might seem peculiar. And our story ends here, since one of the very first things my eye landed on was that the word GRASSO contains “grass,” and, one row above it,
TALLIED contains “tall.” Wires crossed and neurons fired and alarm bells went off; I databased my brain for “tall grass” and “Fleetwood Mac” and instantly had the solution.
The beautiful key to this meta is to take one word hidden in an entry on each of the puzzle’s fifteen rows. Together they spell out “Won’t you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff,” the iconic line from their song “Second Hand News,” making that song our meta answer.
This is an extremely elegant meta in my view. The concept of hiding one word per line in a grid entry is clever, and then he had to come up with a line that would work (which entailed many constraints, including that each word must be hidable in a larger word or phrase).
This song is well-known to me, though I wonder how close to impossible the meta was for someone unfamiliar with it. Objectively it must be considered well-known enough to use as the basis for a meta; it’s the lead cut on one of the most famous albums of all time (Grammy winner for Album of the Year, #25 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums, etc.). It wasn’t a hit itself, though, and there weren’t really any other clues as to what you were looking for if it didn’t happen to jump out at you on the page. But you could always Google “tall grass” and “Fleetwood Mac” if you got that far, so I’d be interested in hearing about solvers who didn’t know the song but still got the meta.
4.75 stars. It’s pretty cool to me that Pete is able to come up with so many strong ideas, like this one, that have never occurred to me in 5+ years of writing a weekly meta.