Muller Music Meta, 2016 Mega-Meta

puzzle — 8:19 (Matt) 
meta — 35 minutes  


It’s Mega-Meta time, as our maestro winds up Season 6 of this outstanding series.

We’re told we’re looking for a classic hit song, and there are twelve entries whose clues are divided by a slash:

1-D [Capture / Show disapproval on Chuck Barris’s show] = BAG / Bang a Gong
4-D [Smithereens / Working again] = BITS / Back in the Saddle
8-D [Questionable / “My condolences”] = IFFY / I Feel For You
9-D [Hairpiece / My possessions] = WIG / What I Got
17-A [Southern dish / Cowboy legend] = GRITS / Ghost Riders in the Sky
21-D [Route / “Our whole life is ahead of us!”] = WAY / We Are Young
52-A [Luxurious place? / Supplicatory] = LAP / Like a Prayer
54-A [Red ___ / Solar core?] = HOTS / Heart of the Sunrise
57-A [Pose / Immigrant?] = SIT / ???
61-D [Draw / Relax] = TIE / Take It Easy
63-D [Clever / A clone?] = SLY / Someone Like You
68-A [Float / Ox] = BOB / Beast of Burden

And then at 29D/10D: [With 10-Down, gut feelings, maybe (and what to make of all the double-clued answers in this puzzle, in numerical order)]= INITIAL IMPRESSIONS.

What’s going on? The first part of each slashed clue is a straight-up clue to the answer, while the second is a clue to a famous song with those initials. So “Draw” is a TIE, and then “Relax” clues “Take It Easy,” the Eagles song with T.I.E. initials. Similarly, “Float” means “bob,” and then “Ox” clues the Rolling Stones song “Beast of Burden.”

Pretty cool mechanism — “I Feel For You” leading to IFFY is my favorite of the group, since it seems improbable that IFFY would be a famous song’s initials, but there it is. Nice find.

OK, so now what? List the artists of those twelve songs, in numerical order of clue number:

“Bang a Gong” is by T. Rex
“Back in the Saddle” is by Aerosmith
“I Feel For You” Is by Chaka Khan
“What I Got” is by Sublime
“Ghost Riders in the Sky” is most famously done by the Outlaws, but I didn’t know this and backsolved/Googled to get there
“We Are Young” is by Fun
“Like a Prayer” is by Madonna
“Heart of the Sunrise” is by Yes
??? is by ??? — I can’t figure this one out, but it’s a song with the initials SIT by a band/person with the initial T. Someone hip me to the answer there in comments, please!
“Take it Easy” is by the Eagles
“Someone Like You” is by Adele
“Beast of Burden” is by the Rolling Stones

So I took the first letter of each act’s name, ignoring “The,” and got TACSOFMY?EAR. That’s not anything, but it was close enough to Smokey Robinson’s TRACKS OF MY TEARS that I thought it had to be the contest answer. And sure enough: you get there by taking not just the first letter of the act’s name, but the first letter of each word (as emboldened above).

Pete makes this look easy, but this was an intricate piece of work. Coming up with all those songs whose initials spell something took a while I’m sure, and then finding exactly 12 (because year-long Mega-Meta) that spelled out yet another song was not easy to do.

And just now at 10:55 I had another penny drop! Pete, you’re a clever guy…I had never quite figured out what the title “Hall of Fame” had to do with anything, and then I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if the initials of ‘Tracks of My Tears’ spelled out something as well? But that’d be asking a bit too much…” and then I noticed something…

See it? “Tracks of My Tears” = TOMT, as in Tom T. Hall, the great country music singer/songwriter. “Hall of Fame” indeed! Now that’s a memorable finishing flourish, on a par with the central ENO/ONE thing from the Mega-Meta a few years ago.

Intricate and beautiful, and a great way to wrap up Season 6. Will there be a Season 7? Pete will let us know soon. I certainly hope so.

4.80 stars. Bravo, maestro.

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26 Responses to Muller Music Meta, 2016 Mega-Meta

  1. Steve Blais says:

    I would argue that the most famous version of Ghost Riders In The Sky was performed by Johnny Cash (I was but a child when I fell in love with this song), but TRACKSJCFMYTEARS isn’t quite the right answer.

    I have no idea what SIT translates to. I tried looking up the discographies of bands like Train and Toto.. oh wait, I never did look up Toto.

    And there it is. Stranger In Town!

    Awesome job, Pete, and here’s hoping you do come back for Season 7!!!

  2. andeux says:

    Stranger in Town by Toto?
    I got all the song titles, but not the step (which had been used similarly in October’s puzzle) of then using the artists . Oh well.

  3. Abide says:

    Great year Pete! I had put the grid aside since Thursday, and football/work catch up prevented me from hunkering down on the mega-meta. At 10:45 I pulled it up and at 10:48 saw Relax= take it easy. Cursing the time, I guessed and Googled my way to TRACK??????E?RS. Submitted Tracks of my Tears at 10:58!

    Love the TOMT Hall tie-in! Thanks again for a great suite, and looking forward to 2017.

  4. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    90 correct answers in total for this one, including the seven stars who got it earlier in the season.

    SIT is “Stranger in Town” by Toto – that was the best “T” I could find.

    Alternates were “It Ain’t Me Babe” by the Turtles, “Feelin’ All Right” by Traffic, and “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. The first two I rejected because they are better associated with Bob Dylan and Joe Cocker, respectively, and the third because DOJ is already an initialization.

    I think this was MMMM Season 5 – if I recall correctly I started in 2012. Thanks everyone for playing this year!

  5. jefe says:

    I am simply in awe of everyone who solved this early. Especially Jangler – in July?!?!

    • David Glasser says:

      Yeah, I thought this mega-meta with the final puzzle included was a great puzzle, but I have absolutely no idea how anyone could have gotten it without the final puzzle. I’d love to hear some stories from any of the 7 who managed! Even if I could have figured out the mechanism somehow, it seems like plenty of the entries are ambiguous (eg “Who Are You”, any of the songs at'm_Gone, etc).

      • BrainBoggler says:

        Yes, I would love to know how Jangler reasoned it out in July. Not only that, I’m very interested in hearing if anyone else noticed in the puzzles throughout the year (with the exception of December, which really threw for me a loop) that the *** entries also were also the first letters of neighboring clues within each puzzle (e.g., 1D, 2D, 3D in January, whose first words/characters were b, al, and gingerbread, respectively). I had been tracking the letters found in those numbered spaces, not just the *** entry itself. After the pattern was broken in December, I was worried that it spelled something with regards to RED HERRING. (In retrospect, perhaps it turned out to be Jangler’s subtle hint to use the *** entries to spell out something.) Anyway, I did arrive at the intended answer, despite missing Ghost Riders in the Sky and Stranger in Town, so thanks again to Pete for another great year of puzzling.

        • Katie M. says:

          The red herring was SMOKESCREEN. Like you said, each month, there were consecutive clues where the first letters spelled out the answer to the ***’d clue. January 1D, 2D, 3D BAG.
          Then the first letter of the next clue, 4D was S. Continue through the year with the first letter of the next clue and you get SMOKESCREEN. I bet there were a lot of early guesses for Smoke on the Water.

          But I would also love to know how Jangler and a couple others got it so early! Maybe you’re right – I guess using the initials of the clues to spell smokescreen was a hint for using initials!

          • BrainBoggler says:

            Interesting, Katie M., that you were looking at the next clue each time. I was only noticing the clues whose first letters spelled the *** entry. Early on, I thought the letters in those cells would be the first letters of the lyrics of the song to find or possibly song titles (possibly from the same album), but when my observed pattern didn’t hold for December, I was thinking maybe BOB was the initials for an album or the performer’s first name. Once Pete announced that the final puzzle was self-contained, and I saw the *** entries appearing in it, I realized that the letters I had collected throughout the year from the previous puzzles were irrelevant. Otherwise, I know I would have still been trying to make something out of them and never would have derived the intended answer.

          • Abide says:

            Jangler never reveals his superpowers. A smokescreen to some could be Smokey Robinson to big J.

      • Justin says:

        Ditto. My path was to assume the letters of each short word could be found, in that order, in either a song title or song lyric. Early on, I thought I saw the words “WAITING FOR” forming, and maybe “GIRL”, so I guessed a few wrong things based on that. I have no idea how you would jump to thinking the words were the initial letters of songs – there weren’t references to each artist in a given grid were there?

        • Pete Muller says:

          I did that for a few of the songs people might not be familiar with. For example YES was clued as [“Heart of the Sunrise” band] in a different puzzle.

          But it wasn’t a systematic pattern.

  6. Gene Faba says:

    I was searching for an S. I. T. song with a one named artist and thought it must be someone that I am not familiar with. I finally came across Stay In Touch by Tyrese. Never heard of him or the song but it was enough to submit. Great year. Thanks.

  7. Rachael says:

    UGH I AM KICKING MYSELF. I got halfway there – wrote out the initials of the artists that did the songs – but convinced myself I was looking for something with the first letters of the starred clues/theme answers and spent forever staring at them trying to figure out songs with lyrics that matched the BBIWGW….. pattern. I also thought that Vaughan Monroe was the artist for “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and that HOTS was an abbreviated version of Pink Floyd’s “Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun” so I didn’t quite have that part right either.

    Brilliant as usual, Pete. Another great year even if I didn’t hit the mega-meta. I’m waiting with bated breath for news of what 2017 will bring!

  8. e.a. says:

    soooooooo good

  9. Paul Coulter says:

    Great year from Pete, and a great mega-meta. Stranger in Town wasn’t the difficult one for me – it was choosing between various covers until I had enough to see we were going for (The) Tracks of My Tears. Looking forward to more delightful MMMM treats this year.

  10. My aha moment came when I googled “bag gong song” and I saw Bang a Gong come up as the #1 hit, and I knew what to do. The rest was more mechanical for me — I couldn’t think up any of the other 11 songs off the top of my head from their initialisms, so I grepped the list of Wikipedia article titles for patterns like '^b[a-z]*_i[a-z]*_t[a-z]*_s[a-z]*$' and looked for titles that matched the clues and that looked like song names, and they all popped right out.

  11. Jeff G. says:

    Bang a Gong was the first to hit me, and it took a long time to figure out the others. I also had Johnny Cash in there throwing things off for a while. Great aha moment when it all fell into place. Another great year of metas! Thanks Pete! Looking forward to whatever you have to offer in 2017.

  12. sharkicicles says:

    What a beautiful puzzle.

    Bang A Gong was the entry point for me as well. Was having some trouble with the later ones and for a bit thought I was maybe supposed to look for a TRACK OF THE YEAR, but finally figured it out.

    Looking forward to whatever Pete puts outs next!

  13. LuckyGuest says:

    Well, I spent each of the 12 months concatenating the first letters of each ***, trying to come up with a [12 word] lyric whose words started with that letter (from January to April, I concocted “Big Brother is watching,” and from May to August, came up with “girls with long hair”), but when nothing came close to clicking, I just hung around, waiting for more and more solvers to get it. I did not expect a final puzzle so I was stoked when it came, and finally got [most of] it; starting with, of all things, IFFY — “I Feel For You”/”sorry”. I only spent a couple minutes of disappointment when I came up with TAPSOFMYTEAR (I had Prince as the IFFY artist) until I got the answer. Oh, and for GRITS, well our band opened for the Outlaws twice, so Johnny Cash never stood a chance. But finally — TOTM–>Tom T. “Hall of Fame”? Absolute genius!!! I can’t *wait* for this year’s Mega Meta…

  14. Francis says:

    Forgot to print this out and solve it before the deadline (I spend a lot less time on the internet when I have a week off), but I did solve it belatedly, and it was great. Thanks for another fun year, Pete!

  15. Rammy M says:

    One I had (more) trouble with was GRITS, I thought it might be “Go Riding Into The Sunset” (legendary cowboys do that, right?).

  16. Matt Gaffney says:

    What’s with all the late vandalism on MMMM ratings? 1.0 and 1.5 stars for this? And always late in the game. Suspicious.

  17. Rachael says:

    Lacking anywhere else to share my excitement, I’m here on the last post of 2016’s MMMM to say HOORAY!!!! MMMM IS ON FOR 2017!

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