puzzle 9:10; meta 2 days (Matt)
Season 2, Episode 8 of the Muller Monthly Music Meta is titled “Number Line” and it almost delivered my second miss of the year. Instructions asked solvers for a classic rock-and-roll hit, and the seven theme clues were each simply a year followed by a parenthetical number:
17-a [2006 (7)] = DAMIEN RICE
23-a [1981 (2)] = BLACK FLAG
28-a [1966 (1) (with “The”)] = BYRDS
39-a [1959 (4)] = DAVE BRUBECK
52-a [1974 (3)] = QUEEN
54-a [1977 (5)] = BOB MARLEY
62-a [1964 (6)] = ROY ORBISON
OK, so what did each of those acts do in the specified year? A little time with my friend Wikipedia led to the answer: in the given year, they each released a famous song with a number in the title. They are:
17-a [2006 (7)] = DAMIEN RICE = “9 Crimes”
23-a [1981 (2)] = BLACK FLAG = “Six Pack”
28-a [1966 (1) (with “The”)] = BYRDS = “Eight Miles High”
39-a [1959 (4)] = DAVE BRUBECK = “Take Five”
52-a [1974 (3)] = QUEEN = “Seven Seas of Rhye”
54-a [1977 (5)] = BOB MARLEY = “Three Little Birds”
62-a [1964 (6)] = ROY ORBISON = “Pretty One”
That last one stuck out as a not very famous song, but it’s by a famous guy so I didn’t think much of that slight anomaly.
Now what? Clearly the finish line is close at hand, as some combination of the song titles, the numbers in those titles, the artists’ names and the numbers in parentheses will spell out the name of the meta answer. But a few minutes of trial-and-error left me mystified, since none of the obvious combinations of those yielded anything intelligible.
I tried using the parenthetical numbered letter of each artist’s name, like the 7th letter in DAMIEN RICE, the 2nd letter in BLACK FLAG, and so on; the parenthetical numbered letter of each song’s name, like the 7th letter of “9 Crimes,” the 2nd letter of “Six Pack,” and so on; using the first letter of each artist’s name in the order indicated by the parentheses; and several other possibilities, each less plausible than the last (one stab even put the songs in chronological order). And none of them worked.
Now I was starting to get worried. The leaderboard sported a healthy number of correct entries, so it couldn’t be anything too crazy obscure; it had to be something staring me right in the face that I wasn’t seeing. I decided to try a backsolve: I found a list of the top 1000 Classic Rock songs of all time and wrote down all the titles with exactly seven letters (the list included “Hey Jude,” “Kashmir,” “Cocaine,” “Refugee,” “Roxanne,” “Touch Me” and “Truckin'”). I looked for one of them hidden among the seven songs/artists, but to no avail.
Sort of getting into panic mode, so I decided to write out the song titles in the order indicated by the numbers in parentheses, and lo and behold…
I said the numbers out loud, and there it was: “867-5903,” the big hit by…who? Some one-hit wonder I’ll have to look up.
That explains the not-that-famous Roy Orbison song “Pretty One” — it’s the wrong song! The number you need is from the much more famous “Oh, Pretty Woman,” also released in 1964, and which uses the “Oh” as the number zero, as you do when saying (or here, singing) a phone number.
Awesome aha-moment for me, and an elegant misdirect; it wasn’t one letter from each song that spelled out the meta answer, it was the numbers in the title.
Very clever and completely original; there’s no other song Pete could’ve used for this idea, and now the idea can’t be done again. And hiding in plain sight the entire time. 4.65 stars.