puzzle ~10 minutes; meta ~45 minutes (Matt)
Season 2, Episode 6 of the Muller Music Meta took me just under an hour. Would’ve cracked it much sooner except for a major oversight!
Our theme entries, conveniently asterisked, are:
19-a [*Elvis Costello album] = MY AIM IS TRUE
29-a [*Eric Clapton album] = SLOWHAND
37-a [*Steve Perry album] = STREET TALK
55-a [*Beatles album] = RUBBER SOUL
63-a [*Dexys Midnight Runners album] = TOO-RYE-AY
77-a [*Self-titled album] = KENNY ROGERS
With a nudge from the puzzle’s title (“Single Ladies”) it didn’t take long to realize what these six albums have in common: each features a famous song that is or includes a woman’s name. The great “Alison” from “My Aim Is True”; “Lay Down Sally” off “Slowhand”; “Oh, Sherrie” from “Street Talk”; “Michelle” off “Rubber Soul”; “Come on, Eileen” off “Too-Rye-Ay”; and “Lucille” off of “Kenny Rogers”.
Take the first letters of those six ladies (Alison – Sally – Sherrie – Michelle – Eileen – Lucille) and you get ASSMEL. Hmmm, what’s that supposed to mean? It doesn’t anagram to anything helpful, and “Dizzy Up the Girl” (see below) implies that it should. I did notice that you can add an I and anagram those letters to Melissa, but arbitrarily adding an I to those six letters can’t be right.
And here we come to my 40-minute oversight: I didn’t notice the asterisk on 16-d: [*With 54-Down, Goo Goo Dolls album, and a possible alternate title for this puzzle] = DIZZY UP / THE GIRL. They had a hit off that album with IRIS, et voila! There’s our missing I. Which anagrams to MELISSA.
Contest instructions asked for a rock album from the 1970s. To complete the pattern: is there a rock album from the 1970s with a famous song on it containing the name “Melissa”? Indeed, The Allman Brothers 1972 opus “Eat a Peach” contains just such a song:
This makes EAT A PEACH our meta answer. I always used to be mystified when solvers of my meta would explain that they’d gotten waylaid by missing an asterisk on a clue, but not after this weekend. Easy to do (and I made a deliberate second pass on all the clues to make sure I hadn’t missed one, and still missed it).
Elegant and intricate meta with a nice aha moment. Also cute that the album is often referenced in crosswords via the EAT A partial. I haven’t taken a shot at the mega-meta yet, but we’re halfway through the year so I’m going to sit down this week and see if I can come up with a worthy guess. 4.40 stars.