Muller Monthly Music Meta, November — Matt’s review

puzzle 6:07; meta 3 minutes (Matt) 

With seven hours left until deadline, just 28 solvers have cracked the November Muller Meta. Instructions ask for a Fleetwood Mac song, and Pete has given us a 17×15 grid with no obvious theme entries.

The first thing I did after solving was “free scan” the grid, looking for anything that might seem peculiar. And our story ends here, since one of the very first things my eye landed on was that the word GRASSO contains “grass,” and, one row above it,
TALLIED contains “tall.” Wires crossed and neurons fired and alarm bells went off; I databased my brain for “tall grass” and “Fleetwood Mac” and instantly had the solution.

The beautiful key to this meta is to take one word hidden in an entry on each of the puzzle’s fifteen rows. Together they spell out “Won’t you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff,” the iconic line from their song “Second Hand News,” making that song our meta answer.

This is an extremely elegant meta in my view. The concept of hiding one word per line in a grid entry is clever, and then he had to come up with a line that would work (which entailed many constraints, including that each word must be hidable in a larger word or phrase).

This song is well-known to me, though I wonder how close to impossible the meta was for someone unfamiliar with it. Objectively it must be considered well-known enough to use as the basis for a meta; it’s the lead cut on one of the most famous albums of all time (Grammy winner for Album of the Year, #25 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums, etc.). It wasn’t a hit itself, though, and there weren’t really any other clues as to what you were looking for if it didn’t happen to jump out at you on the page. But you could always Google “tall grass” and “Fleetwood Mac” if you got that far, so I’d be interested in hearing about solvers who didn’t know the song but still got the meta.

4.75 stars. It’s pretty cool to me that Pete is able to come up with so many strong ideas, like this one, that have never occurred to me in 5+ years of writing a weekly meta.

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20 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, November — Matt’s review

  1. Abide says:

    Did not get. The song is well known to me but I have never been able to understand any of Buckingham’s vocals; it’s all mondegreen to me. As such, the hint didn’t help me much either. The trick is quite impressive. I did have a nice time watching Fleetwood Mac videos today…!

    • Matt says:

      I just learned today, after knowing this song for 25 years, that the line is “One thing I think you should know / I ain’t gonna miss you when you’re gone.” I always thought it was “I’m really gonna miss you when you’re gone.” Totally opposite meaning.

  2. Matt says:

    PS this was the best cover version I found on YouTube for this song:

  3. Katie M. says:

    After a long time of spinning my wheels, I decided to think about the Invitation part of the title. So, I was looking at all the IN’s, as in “come in”, still getting nowhere, when I thought of “won’t you come in”, and then saw WONT YOU. I Googled “Fleetwood Mac” and “won’t you”, and found the lyric. I realized down, grass and stuff was in the grid, and then found it was all there. I remember the song, but never really knew the lyrics. Cool puzzle!

  4. Alex Bourzutschky says:

    This meta took me no more than 15 minutes once I had done the grid. I had eventually fixated on WONTON, probably because backwards it was NOT NOW. The odd Young/Yount cross then made me realize that “Won’t you…” seemed like a “Veiled Invitation.” I saw the ME in MENS, and Googling “won’t you me fleetwood mac lyrics” led me to the answer.

    What’s strange is that I can’t remember anymore why “Veiled Invitation” would make me look for a hidden message. I remember browsing several early MGWCCs, but going back I cannot find any that come closer than #094 (where the key words are the entire across words, not substrings of them). Maybe I had become used to the frequency of MMMMs where the meta lies in across answers in the grid. I believe I am generally better at grid metas than clue metas.

  5. Pete Muller says:

    thanks Matt!

    32 correct answers…

    At least one solver told me they got it by googling TALL GRASS and Fleetwood Mac. Katie (above comment) got it from googling as well.

    I hope people that didn’t get it and don’t know the song still think it was fair and gettable…

    There aren’t a lot of songs with recognizable lyrics consisting of 15 one syllable words – I was happy to find this one.


    • jefe says:

      Stumped me, but I think it was fair and gettable (and really brilliant, for that matter). Title is spot on. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time this weekend to devote to the puzzle or to perusing Fleetwood Mac lyrics.

  6. Patrick L says:

    Didn’t solve, but figured we were due for a difficult one. I understand ‘veiled’ now – partly hidden words. I was focusing on brides for a while, seeing WILD near RADNER. I also saw the word TALLIED in the middle and thought the clue for PHIL had the number 12 shoehorned in: “Thin Lizzy frontman Lynott (for all 12 albums).” But the numbers went nowhere.

    I’ve never heard these lyrics or this song but that doesn’t necessarily make the puzzle unfair. There’s no ambiguity now that I’ve seen the solution. This meta was just extremely well hidden, with very few quirks / clues to point to the words-within-words.

  7. Quicksilver says:

    Hi. I didn’t know the song previously, but got the meta. Like Katie M., I eventually (a day after completing the grid) latched onto “Invitation” in the title, and tried looking for words hiding in the grid that could form an invitation. Picked up WON’T and YOU quickly — then got the thought that each row might contribute a word. Finding LAY, ME, then DOWN sounded promising enough, so I Googled “Won’t you lay me down” “Fleetwood Mac” then eureka!

    Thanks, Pete, and kudos on another challenging yet fun puzzle!

  8. Dan Katz says:

    Didn’t solve it, but it’s a lovely construction.

    I have to admit being thrown by the use of BATFOR in a music-themed puzzle without cluing it in terms of Bat For Lashes. I thought that had to be intentional, and it convinced me I was looking for words that completed band/artist names; “No Way Out” (mentioned in a clue) also being a song by PHIL Collins sent me down a looong rabbit hole. Oops.

  9. klew archer says:

    First one ever I didn’t get, and I do know the song. Had some distractions last week so when I didn’t see it right away couldn’t really find the time to mull it over, suppose it was fair.

  10. Paul Coulter says:

    It was an extremely fair and clever meta, though I couldn’t crack it. I knew the song, and back in the day, I even heard Fleetwood Mac perform it in concert. But I was fixated on finding hidden song titles like Come a Little Bit Closer and Go Your Own Way that are themselves an invitation. That was outstanding, Pete.

  11. Howard B says:

    Amazing construction, but I don’t know the song (after hearing it I don’t recognize it), and no way to break into such a thing otherwise that I can see.
    As I can’t see any way I could have solved this, since nothing missed, no regrets.

    I am still constantly amazed at the variety and creativity of methods used to create metapuzzles and their solutions!

  12. Adam Thompson says:

    Didn’t get it. I was thinking the meta was in the four long Down answers, or something to do with the unusual dimensions. I thought the fill was too clean to hide anything.

  13. Norm H says:

    Did not get this one, but know the song well and agree with those who find the meta quite elegant.

    One thing that hung me up…the PHIL Lynott clue…the parenthetical at the end of it seemed superfluous. Like Patrick L, I interpreted that to mean something. Pete, if you are still reading…why did you append that to the clue?

  14. DJB says:

    I got there in the end, but had to google, as I wasn’t familiar with the song or lyrics. The biggest help was the title hinting at an invitation. I scanned for words that could indicate some sort of question – I saw “won’t” then “you” and “tall” “grass”. Googling won’t you tall grass fleetwood mac got me there.

    I thought it was a great meta, well constructed and well hidden.

    Deadend path 1: thinking the long-ish entries hid partial album titles from bands mentioned in the clues. eg Estate tax -> Sugar Tax by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (who are named in a clue)

    Deadend path 2: thinking the long-ish entries hid anagrammed artists mentioned in the clues. eg Hyberbole hides Loeb at the end (who is mentioned in a clue).

  15. Huda says:

    I don’t do these, but this puzzle is way cool. And these ratings are amazing. Does this happen often with the metas, to have that many 5 stars across the board?

    • Evad says:

      Hi Huda, if you look at the Best Puzzles of 2012 (as determined by raters on this blog), many of them are metapuzzles by Matt Gaffney.

      I’m sure this (and likely many others) of Pete’s puzzles will be on the 2013 list.

  16. charles montpetit says:

    Didn’t know the lyrics, needed a hint, got it via google thanks to TALL GRASS–but only after futzing around with WILD YOUNG MAN, which seemed even more promising in the first three row. In fact, I actually suspected that many entries like YOUNG (Neil), INSANE (Clown Posse) and DOTS (Legendary Pink) had been clued non-musically on purpose, and spent even more time on *that* dead end. Then again, there’s always the possibility that this has to do with the mega-meta, right? Right?

  17. Giovanni P. says:

    Didn’t know the song, didn’t know the meta. I deserve to have my streak snapped given how far off the mark I was. I never even thought of looking for words in words like that; I focused on the numbers int he clues and the long downs most of the time. At least I wasn’t alone in that, judging from the comments here.

    Barring my experience, that was a nice “tough up front, simple in hindsight” meta. Kudos Pete. I’ll be back next month for a little redemption ;).

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