Muller Monthly Music Meta, April

puzzle 9:48; meta 1 hour but submitted incorrect answer (Matt) 


Title: “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a song from the ’60s
Answer: “All My Loving” by the Beatles

My perfect year is gone in April! Egads. I’m a little bitter about it since I think my answer is worth consideration as a correct alt-entry, but 240+ people got Pete’s answer and only about a dozen got mine, so could be sour grapes. Let’s see what happened…

Solve was fairly tough; in the end I was happy to clock in at under 10 minutes. Took me way too long see that [Salt partner] at 2-D was PEPA (this is a music puzzle, keep in mind) or that the five-letter [TV personality who has hosted Mariah 22 times] is the hardly obscure OPRAH at 17-A.

Anyway, on to the meta: didn’t take me long to spot the first three pieces of the puzzle, which were the names JOHN on the top row, split among ADJ (cleverly clued to music as [“God Is ___” (Pink song about dancing through life)] and OHNO (for some reason not clued to the great Commodores song), and then RINGO hidden among SERI and NGOS along the right edge, and then GEORGE on the bottom row among EDGE/ORG/ENEMY.

Was then surprised not to see PAUL along the left edge, which would have completed the pattern, and was trying to remember which song had the “Paul is dead” line. But then I noticed PAUL hidden one row in from the left edge, between that PEPA entry and ULEE. And then a big “whoa!” moment when I saw the nine-letter MCCARTNEY hidden with extreme elegance in the middle of the grid, divided among DMC, CART, and NEYO (nicely done there!). HARRIS and ONA yielded HARRISON in the grid’s 10th column, and then I finally spotted STARR lurking in the second row, camouflaged nicely among LEAFS, TAR, and ROOTS.

But LENNON was nowhere to be found, and –aha! There’s my answer. “Nowhere Man,” one of John’s minor masterpieces. Wasn’t a 100% click, but it made sense…until another look at the grid dealt a serious blow to that theory, since LENNON indeed hides among LEN and NONES on the grid’s penultimate row.

So now what? There must be a song title that explains this mechanism cleanly enough to be the meta answer. I first thought of “Here, There, and Everywhere,” which vaguely but not convincingly describes the names strewn about the grid. So I began to leaf through Ranker’s list of Beatles songs until one made sense: “Come Together.” The pieces do need to come together through black squares to make sense, but still only about a 60% click. But then I looked back at the puzzle’s title: “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” and that bumped it up to 90% confidence. Still wasn’t a lock, but I couldn’t find a song that made more sense, and the dichotomy of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” and “Come Together” convinced me it was right. I let it sit for a while, but became confident enough that I even looked through 8-10 covers of “Come Together” to see which was the best to post with this review. Then I sent my answer in, and was surprised when my name didn’t show up on the board!

I received a note from Pete telling me to look for a song title hidden in the grid, and quickly spotted contest answer ALL MY LOVING in the fourth column.

Here are the thoughts on this meta that I e-mailed Pete:

1) Nice gridwork, especially MCCARTNEY using Run-DMC and Ne-Yo

2) If I had seen All My Loving I would’ve known 100% it was correct — actually, would I have? The reason being…

3) I didn’t look for anything else in the grid since I thought, hiding all 4 Beatles’ names broken up in the grid is a complete idea, and fits with the title. So looking for another broken-up entry as the song title/meta answer never entered my head. It seems as though the answer had to be derived from the fact that the 4 names are broken up on the grid. With answer ALL MY LOVING in there as well, the four names in the grid are superfluous — you could just have seen ALL MY LOVING in there and entered that way. Finding the four names might help in some auxiliary way (like narrowing down which part of the grid the song title would be found in) but finding those 4 are not essential as far as I can see to the meta.

4) So might’ve been a case where being a meta constructor was very unhelpful, since I didn’t think to keep looking for a song title in the grid after I’d found the names

5) It’s certainly not an unfair meta, but…

6) It’s also not one of my favorites 6b) which is an opinion tinted with grapes that are sour, though I was 80-90% sure of my answer when I sent it in, which is kind of uncomfortably confident

So my perfect year is done, but a couple of hundred of you have yours intact. I am envious! But I’ll be back in May to climb back on the victory train.

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37 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, April

  1. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    254 correct answers this week.
    17 people submitted “Come Together,” so you’re not alone.
    3 submitted “The End.”

    Wrt the clue for OH NO, I decided that one Commodores hit (EASY) was enough for the puzzle.

    I’m not inclined, but I’m curious to hear if others think I should accept “Come Together.” Let me know if you have a strong opinion.

    Happy holidays all – stay safe!

    • jps says:

      I immediately thought of “Come Together” and almost submitted it. It seemed like a sufficient answer but there was no 100% click. I looked again, though nothing really directs one to, and saw “All My Loving”. If I’d gone with my first instinct, I’d have sour grapes too.

      There have certainly been enough metas where I think “well, I guess that has to be it” and it is.

      Not the strongest opinion for “Come Together” but I’d still be inclined to accept it.


    • Ellen Lewin (MamaE on the board) says:

      I was going to guess “Come Together”, until my husband (who isn’t a crossword puzzle guy but likes “advising” on the metas I solve) suggested that I keep looking for a song in the puzzle. I scoffed, but did it – and was really surprised to see “All My Loving”. Without his urging, I would have submitted “Come Together” – which I think has a bigger “click”. I also agree that there is nothing making you look for the song title in the grid once you’ve found all four Beatle’s names. Just my two cents’ worth. Great puzzle nonetheless, with my favorite group of all time!

  2. Karen says:

    I was nowhere close to getting this one, didn’t notice any of the Beatles’ names or the song title hidden in the grid. But I’ve had the Steely Dan song “Reeling In the Years” running through my head the past three days, as well as “Easy” and “The Joker”, which are very pleasant side effects of the music metas.

  3. Tyler Hinman says:

    Team “Come Together” here. I’m definitely more annoyed with the puzzle than with myself (though the latter is admittedly nonzero). You can miss almost all of the theme material and still feel certain of getting it right, which means that majority is essentially a distraction. I’m not a fan of exactly one piece being strictly necessary to the solution and the remaining 90% of the theme being mere (unnecessary) confirmation.

  4. Jonesy says:

    I think Matt’s review is spot on (especially #3 and #4) – I had also assumed the 4 names split in the grid was all the theme material for a long time. For #3 – if the ‘found’ answer were COME TOGETHER, that feels more 100% (because of how it echoes the mechanism & title). I was pretty confident in ALL MY LOVING because the grid already had so much theme material with the 4 split names but I still checked the leaderboard to make sure. For #4 – obviously we were looking for a Beatles song, but the set of 4 names just felt complete on its own so I quickly went to song lists before searching more in the grid.

    I submitted ALL MY LOVING (probably just lucky that I spotted it in the grid before I considered COME TOGETHER) but I would accept COME TOGETHER as an alt. Totally different story if the prompt asked for a ‘song in the grid’ or something like that.

    The fact that COME TOGETHER meshes better with the overall vibe of the meta (ie ALL MY LOVING doesn’t describe the name hiding mechanism) and the title makes it even more compelling as an alt…

  5. Matthew G. says:

    I found all of the Beatles’ last names broken up in the grid but never found my way from there to a meta answer. Annoyingly, I spotted the word LOVING broken up but somehow failed to notice the ALL MY before it.

    I ended up submitting nothing because I never found a satisfying answer, but with no horse in the race I’ll say those who submitted COME TOGETHER should get credit.

    • Matthew G. says:

      I also thought the entry EASY would be somehow meta-relevant since the word “breakup” is conspicuously in its clue *and* it is an antonym of “Hard,” which is in the title. Had I submitted a Hail Mary, it would probably have been “A Hard Day’s Night.”

    • Matthew G. says:

      Haha, I just went to toss the puzzle in my kitchen’s recycling bin, and *now* I see why I didn’t see it: I had an error in my grid! For 33-across, {Takes a load off?} I had SLIPS instead of SLIMS, and I never fixed it because I don’t know the Coldplay album in the 34-down clue, and PYLO made as much sense there as anything else.


  6. Joe says:

    Just chiming in to say that I, too, submitted COME TOGETHER with Matt’s 80-90% sureness. The thing that pushed me to submit was, as Jonesy said, it worked so perfectly with the title. Still, how the hell did I miss seeing ALL MY LOVING????

  7. jefe says:

    All y’all sour grapers disrespecting on Pete thinking he can’t cleanly hide 8 names AND a song title in the grid. For shame.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I have to admit, part of the reason I didn’t look for more was an intuitive “can’t possibly be anything else in there” once I’d found LENNON.

  8. Tony says:

    I was going to submit Come Together as well, but as I took one final look at the grid, I spotted All My Loving. I then reasoned that the title for this meta pointed merely to the mechanism and not th e answer.

    As for the names themselves, I first spotted Lennon and then the other last names except for Harrison, until I looked at the downs. Theni spotted the first names.

  9. Charles Montpetit says:

    I for one found ALL MY LOVING first, so for me, it obviously was the meta answer. I eventually went on to spot all of the Beatles’ names because Peter tends to pack his grids with meta material and I couldn’t believe that there was nothing more to this one (and also because I wanted to make sure that no other songs titles were hiding anywhere). Had I found the eight names first, yes, I’d have been tempted to think that the set was complete, but since the prompt was asking for a song and not a band’s name, I’d probably have kept looking for an extra clue, because otherwise, there’s way too many titles that can be tied to the process of ignoring black squares in order to reconstitute the Fab Four’s names (arguments could be made for “All Together Now,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” “Fixing a Hole,” “Here, There and Everywhere” and “You Won’t See Me,” just to name a few). I’m not saying that “Come Together” isn’t up there with them, but if it’s accepted as an alt-answer, then we should give equal credits (say, half points) to *any* other rationalization, too. In the meantime, let’s not blame a constructor for one’s own failure to spot the 100% bona fide answer that he had actually (and properly) hidden in his grid!

    • mkmf says:

      I agree – there were many song options that could -possibly- fit the embedded name mechanism. I recalled that Pete sometimes used gestalt-type final step (example: Tiny Dancer), but once a couple of song titles could fit the mechanism- in a stretch- I was pretty sure that Pete wouldn’t leave it at that, and that there would be other confirmation somewhere.

  10. Norm H says:

    I spotted all four Beatles, then went straight to an alphabetized song list on Wikipedia. I hadn’t even finished the “A” songs when I happened to glance back at the grid and notice ALL/MYLO/VING. Thank goodness for that, because had I gotten to “Come Together” I probably would have submitted that and felt good about it. That seems to me to be a design flaw, albeit one I didn’t notice while solving.

  11. Amanda says:

    I’m sure I’m missing something obvious here, but can someone explain NONES and ONEG? Wasn’t sure if it was O-NEG like the blood group or ONE G.

  12. Pete Muller says:


    Still working on the write-up and didn’t mean to make it public

    Here’s the relevant section:

    Quite a few folks expressed puzzlement over two clues with twists, so I thought I’d explain them. NONES is clued as [Prayer time after a sext to a Christian?]. In Christianity, the day consists of seven canonical hours. The noon service is called sext and the next one at 3 p.m. is called nones. ONEG is clued as [Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Elvis Presley’s supergroup, for short?]. Cobain, Morrison, and Presley all had the rare blood type O negative. Such people are universal donors, since their blood can be used in a transfusion to anyone in any other blood group, which is pretty super if you think about it. This clue was suggested by test solver Charles Montpetit.

    • Amanda says:

      I’m O-negative too. Should have thought to Google that. Thanks for the help, Pete and damefox!

      • Pete Muller says:


        I really liked the “sext” clue – but I guess Christian canonical hours are not exactly common knowledge…I hope it made a least a few folks smile.

        • jefe says:

          I appreciated it! We had passing mention of the canonical hours way back in freshman World History (“look them up on your own”), then of course they were on the test to reward anyone who bothered looking them up (not me). I looked them up afterwards and remembered Nones was one of them.

        • mkmf says:

          I loved the misdirection of it!! Especially because it took me so long. At first I just couldn’t parse it.

          Then from crossings I found the ninth hour or 3pm definition of NONES but still could not parse the rest of the clue. I detoured down a rabbit hole – because Midnight was mentioned in another clue and the Tenth song on an album was oddly called out. When I looped back to check out more about prayer hours and pulled up the list in order with Sext listed above Nones, it finally fell into place AND made perfect sense. It was a wonderful funny and impressive piece of wordplay – much like the great misdirection in the clues of Cox & Rathvon

    • Phil says:

      I missed the meta all together… but did manage to see the ONEG and did some further checking.
      Other members of the supergroup if my google source is correct:
      Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon

  13. Alan says:

    I was surprised this morning that this puzzle was not polling close to 5 stars. As Charles indicated, this is one packed grid. I’m blown away by getting over 20% of the squares involved in the meta, getting all 8 names spread across the grid and then adding a given song title. I agree with Tyler’s point about possibly finding the song title and missing much of the meta-content–but “All My Loving” was the cheat code and the Fab Four were the Easter Eggs. Time for me to attempt the Mega!

  14. Pancho Harrison says:

    Every reference I found on Google has Elvis’s blood type as O-positive. I thought maybe just the O category alone made it a “supergroup,” in a way. I’d like to see a reference that has his type as O-neg.

  15. Tom says:

    I submitted “Come Together,” as well … and I truly smiled at the inclusion of OhNo/Ono in the grid. Nicely played, Master Pete.

  16. Pete Muller says:

    Hi all-

    After a few consultations, I am going to go ahead and accept “Come Together.” If you submitted “Come Together” you will get 1 point this month instead of 2, and you won’t be eligible for the mug drawing.

    It was a close decision, but it does seem like a good time to be generous. The credit should get posted after the solution is up tomorrow.

    Thanks for the kind comments from those of you that really liked the puzzle.

    I am kicking myself slightly for not putting COM/ETO/GET/HER in there instead…

  17. Myelbow says:

    I submitted COME TOGETHER as my answer too. I have to admit: this grid was so densely packed with the fragments of the Beatles’ names that it genuinely never occurred to me that Pete could have found room to stuff the name of a song in there as well! Never underestimate Mr. Muller’s construction abilities!

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