2015 Puzzle 11: “Axe Heads” Solution

Axe HeadsThe penultimate MMMM of 2015, “Axe Heads,” challenged solvers to find an early Bruce Springsteen song. Each of the four theme entries is a song that features a musical instrument:




SQUEEZE BOX:  Accordion

Taking the “head” of each “axe” gives you T – U – B – A. There is only one early recorded Springsteen song that prominently features a tuba (played by Garry Tallent): Wild Billy’s Circus Story, this month’s meta answer. A total of 56 solvers found their way to a correct solution, though more than a few mentioned they weren’t 100% sure their answer was right (mostly because the song is atypically obscure for an MMMM meta). It turns out very few rock songs have tuba parts!

I gave credit to one solver who submitted The E Street Shuffle, along with a comment that the song features a tuba part. It’s not as prominent a tuba part as the one in the intended answer, but it works.

This month’s puzzle contained a somewhat devious red herring that tripped up a number of solvers: Hello, Rainbow, Sweet, and Squeeze are all band names. I wish I could claim that it was intentional!

Some solver comments:

QuickS?lver   Before this puzzle, I thought that “axe” meant “guitar.” Checking the dictionary, I found that “axe” actually could mean any musical instrument.  Indeed!

RPardoe   Nice cluing on the specific versions of songs to get to the featured instrument in each song leading to a nice double definition for the puzzle’s title. A very satisfying AHA once realized.

Abide   Never heard this song but I like it!  I’m a big Springsteen fan, and I especially love his early stuff.

Lisa from Queens   Definitely thrown off by all the banjos.  Three of the four songs had significant banjo parts, which made the solve harder for some.

patanga   This puzzle is so boss.  GROAN

AK   Does the central REBIRTH tie in?   It does not. But there is the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band, which does feature a tuba.

Matt Gaffney   This was a great solve — took me about 3 hours, and several times I was more than 50% sure I had it, only to hit a dead end. Very cool!  Matt is now 11 for 11 on the MMMM. Will he be able to complete a perfect year in December? Check out his tortuous solving journey this month at Crossword Fiend, where you can optionally leave a comment and/or rate the puzzle.

Solvers rated the puzzle a respectable 4.0 stars out of 5 with an average difficulty rating of 3.56 out of 5 (much lower than last month!). This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Rich Bragg from Los Altos, CA.

Thanks for solving and see you next month!