Muller Monthly Music Meta, July — “Single Ladies”

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.

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15 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, July — “Single Ladies”

  1. janie says:

    >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”?

    hmmm. i didn’t go the extra step of looking for a ’70s rock album w/ a famous song containing the name “melissa,” but went right for ms. manchester’s self-titled album, thinking how long it’d been since i’d even thought of her…

    suspect this’ll be one of those “stop! you’re both right!” situations — for the monthly meta, at any rate.

    we’ll soon find out!


  2. Norm H says:

    I did everything as Matt did up to a point, but didn’t see that ASSMELI anagrams to MELISSA. So, I went with the Stones’ classic “Some Girls”, not feeling very good about it. Ouch.

  3. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt

    87 correct answers this month, plus another 20 Melissas that I will probably take.

    I deliberately put “rock” in the meta specs to avoid the ambiguity, but didn’t realize Wikipedia incorrectly calls “Melissa” a rock album.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      I was one of the Melissa (Manchester) group – odd, since the Allman Brothers’ Melissa is one of my favorite songs. Nice job, Pete.

    • janie says:

      fwiw, the allmusic guide places both “melissa” and “eat a peach” in the pop/rock genre:


    • Charles Montpetit says:

      “Incorrectly?” Hoo boy, I fear we’re on a slippery slope to that old What-is-rock-music discussion. Labels are so arbitrary, aren’t they? If Etta James, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen are considered proper inductees in the Rock’n’roll Hall of Fame, I’m sure there are enough people out there who’d consider Melissa Manchester a valid entry too, including her own agent, who lists her in that category ( Sorry.

      • Pete Muller says:

        How’s about we say “very broadly” instead of “incorrectly” ? :)

        I should have done a better job eliminating “Melissa”

        • TimM says:

          The album “Melissa” doesn’t fit the pattern established by the theme answers, though, does it? All of the theme answers were albums with a song named after a female. Therefore, the meta-answer would be an album with a song on it titled “Melissa”, not the album itself. It works with the title, also, since all of the songs were released as singles from those albums.

          • Pete Muller says:

            Yes that’s right. “Eat a Peach” is a much better answer. But I can’t really fault solvers for stopping once they found “Melissa,” so I have to give them credit.

  4. David Stein says:

    Great Meta, Pete! As one of the 20 Melissa’s, I do hope you give full credit. Once I saw that Wiki classified the album as Rock, there was no reason for me to think further.

  5. Jeff G. says:

    Loved the meta this week (even though I was one of the Melissa’s). Excellent theme entries. Lots of fun all around. Thanks Pete!

  6. Chris Popp says:

    Loved this puzzle. My solving process was similar to Matt’s, except that it took me several hours to “see” the possibility of “Melissa” and to include the I from “Iris”.

  7. Andrew Silikovitz says:

    I also chose Melissa Manchester’s album.

  8. abide says:

    Another winner from Mr. Muller! My stumbling block for 40 minutes was assuming the Slow Hand song was Layla. I celebrated completion by watching Allman Bros and Gov’t Mule videos for an hour.

    The title was more than a nudge, more like a welcome 2×4 to the head. (Gaffney take note!)

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