Muller Monthly Music Meta, February 2024

Title: “Drink Recipe” by Pete Muller, Mack Meller, and Andrew White
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a well-known song from the ’70s.
Answer: “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass

puzzle 8:05; meta 2 hours mins (Matt)



This one almost got me! So simple, but so tough to see. Four theme entries are:

20-A: [“I’ve got some big news … and it’s not good”] = BRACE YOURSELF

33-A: [Religious leader with an eponymous university] = BRIGHAM YOUNG

41-A: [Beer ingredient popular as a nutritional supplement] = BREWER’S YEAST

55-A: [Attention-getting shades] = BRIGHT YELLOWS

Took me 2 minutes to realize these are all ?.Y. entries; after 10 minutes I said oh duh, they’re all B.Y. entries…but then, it took me a couple of hours over a couple of days to realize that these are all BR&Y entries! You’ve got your BR “and” Y, spelling out contest answer “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” one of the most ’70s songs there is. Sneaky! The eye just doesn’t see the R’s and then realizing there’s an “and” before the Y was a stellar aha moment!

4.75 stars. Simple but not easy and highly elegant. Wish I’d thought of that one!

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13 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, February 2024

  1. Eric H. says:

    My experience was almost exactly like Matt Gaffney’s.

    Initially, BY led me to BYOB, and while there’s one or two OB’s in the grid (such as 36A LOBO), there aren’t enough to do anything with.

    About two days after I solved the grid, the B . . . Y somehow made me think of “Brandy.” Misremembering the theme entries as all B . . . Y words, I thought it inelegant that “Brandy” would be the answer. It was so inelegant (especially for one of Pete Muller’s puzzles) that I was not at all confident that it was the correct answer. But I figured that if I didn’t come up with something better, I would submit it anyway.

    Then I looked at the grid again and saw that the B words were all BR . . ., and I knew I had the right answer.

    Very fun! But I wonder if anyone who doesn’t know the song was able to get it. The theme answers are all obvious (is BRIGHT YELLOWS a new and improved green paint?), but do they point the solver in the right direction if the solver lacks the critical piece of information?

  2. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt

    366 this month, a bit light for a month 2.
    I had a lot of fun with both your WSJ meta and the MGWCC this week so I’m glad it’s reciprocal!


    • Eric H. says:

      Do you think the low number of correct answers is because younger people don’t remember “Brandy”? I was in junior high in 1972 and remember it quite well. I see now that it was used in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” so maybe it’s not as unfamiliar to younger people as I thought.

      • Me says:

        Like Matt and Eric H, I spent a huge amount of time trying to figure out what B.Y. meant, and it was a real slap-on-the-forehead moment when I realized it was BR and Y. I don’t know why the BR- was so difficult to see. A great puzzle this month!

        I knew BRANDY was right from the title of “Drink Recipe.” That was a huge help here.

      • Lee says:

        The song was before my time, but I did get the meta correct. I think the low number of correct answers has to do with two aspects of the song title. First, it doesn’t have a very prominent or memorable or unique name that sticks out. Second is that I found it by Googling things like “70s famous songs” and I think it was on the fifth or sixth list I found. I think it is at the bottom of the top songs (or maybe the top of the bottom) from the 70s and I think “well-known” isn’t the best way to describe it. I think the low number of correct answers supports this viewpoint. Perhaps in the 70s it was “well-known” but there are many more songs from the 70s that I’d describe that way today.

  3. EP says:

    I also failed to note the ‘R’ in those B-Y entries in the grid, (things like ‘Bye Bye Love’ & ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ ran thru my head) and never got beyond that. When it’s pointed out and you finally see it, after cursing yourself for missing them, you have to admire the simple eloquence of of this construction. And I have no excuses, I well remember this catchy tune from the group with that most unusual name, ‘Looking Glass’.

  4. Andrew says:

    Just call me Alice, because I went down very similar Rabbit Holes to you all before finally happening upon Looking Glass.

  5. aura says:

    Some substandard cluing on this one, which made the solve onerous.

    41A: Beer ingredient popular as a nutritional supplement. Answer is Brewer’s yeast, which is incorrect. Nutritional yeast (normally flaked) is not the same as brewer’s yeast. Having made countless batches of home brew, Brewing yeast is granular and not for human consumption on its own. They are not identical.

    62: 1972 Bill Withers hit. Answer is “Use Me.” Use me was released in 1971, not 1972.

  6. Adam Rosenfield says:

    I saw the BR___Y___ patterns right away, but I’d never heard of the song before, so it took a lot of scouring of lists of ’70s top hits before I finally came across this, somewhere around #97 or so of one particular top 100 list.

  7. Hector says:

    Count me on team-anti-sailor-with-gifts-from-far-away.

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