2016 Puzzle 11: “Putting It Back Together” Solution

Putting It Back Together

The November MMMM challenged solvers to find a “well-known musician.” Unlike most meta puzzles, the grid doesn’t contain any obvious theme entries. Hmmm…now what? The title, “Putting It Back Together,” hints that something may be going on in reverse. Closer examination shows 12 three-letter entries that spell out song titles when concatenated and read backwards, as follows:

NED / RAG / TER / CES –> Secret Garden

EVO / LFO / LEN / NUT –> Tunnel of Love

CAL / LID / ACK / NIP –> Pink Cadillac

All three song titles are by one of my favorite artists, and this month’s meta answer, Bruce Springsteen. A total of 129 subscribers got the correct answer this month.

I’d like to give a big shout-out to my friend Matt Ginsberg, who wrote a program to parse my song database and come up with possible entries. There were not a lot of songs that made it, so it was very surprising to find three by the Boss. In case you’re curious, here are a few of the other song titles of other lengths that could work:  GREEN ONIONS, VALERIE, BUS STOP, ON AND ON, PART TIME LOVER, and MEET DOCTOR FOO.


Selected User Comments:

yosser   Yay, got one! The last couple months have been TOUGH!

Pancho   Amazing that you found three major tunes that would work backwards!  Thanks Matt!

Howard B   I’m from NJ. Thus if I didn’t solve this meta, that would be legal grounds to evict me from the state.  Me too!

Dave C   An 11th hour aha solve! Didn’t spend much time over the weekend, but the key was convincing myself there were no themers.

Bob J   The awkward 3-letter entries in the others are worth it for the sake of the theme.  Glad you think so. Otherwise I’d expect scowls for putting TER, CES, LFO, and EVO in the same puzzle!

Wynaut   Just discovered this site yesterday – great timing!   Welcome!



Clues That Could Have Been Musical:

Evan suggests  [“I’m a genie in a bottle / You gotta ___ me the right way” (Christina Aguilera lyric)] for RUB.  My wife thinks this should be my theme song. Not sure what to make of that.

Charles Montpetit suggests [The music world’s Cates, Glynne, Klein, Lee, Roden or Stacy] for JESS.

panonica reminds me that the IGUANAS are sort of like a New Orleans version of Los Lobos.  Great band!



Gwinns   This pink cadillac went down a lot of blind alleys, mainly surrounding the absence of an M in the grid.

jsolomon1999   I meta little grid and I settled down! (apologizes to “Stolen Car”).

Paul Coulter   I had High Hopes for this one and it didn’t disappoint. Feel like I’m in Lucky Town, while Working on a Dream.

RockGolf   I guess this quiz was born to run backwards.

Mike Berman   Brilliant Disguise! Tougher Than the Rest. One Step Up.


Solvers found this puzzle to be relatively easy, rating it an average of 2.61 on a scale of 1 to 5. The average rating was a respectable 4.04 stars out of 5. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is David Hunley from Wakefield, RI. Thanks as always to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle and/or leave a comment.

Only four solvers have cracked the 2016 mega-meta. There’s still time to do so and impress your friends, earning bonus points in the process.

Thanks for playing, and see you in December!