2017 Puzzle 9: “Fortune Hunter” Solution

The September MMMM, “Fortune Hunter,” challenges solvers to find one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” But first, what’s going on with these clues? Seven of them don’t make sense, such as [Name invoking fascism] for SPRINGTIME and [Long-running hit Broadway musical] for COOL. In addition, clues for seven other grid entries are numbered, such as [Van ___ (1)] for HALEN.

A total of 141 solvers figured out what to do, helped in part by parsing the puzzle title (“For-tune Hunter”) and the clue for SUBSTITUTE [Fill in (for)]. Filling in “for” gives the following tunes (in order of the artists indicated by the numbered clues):

HOT for TEACHER [Class head] Van Halen
SPRINGTIME for HITLER [Name invoking fascism] Mel Brooks
TEST for ECHO [Reverberation] Rush
COOL for CATS [Long-running hit Broadway musical] Squeeze
BEG for IT [Neutral pronoun] Iggy Azalea
TEA for TWO [Small prime number] Doris Day
BURNIN’ for YOU [Part of TTYL] Blue Öyster Cult


One more step remains. The first letter of each of the substituted words (in numerical order) spells T-H-E-C-I-T-Y. There’s only one song on the Rolling Stone list of the form “___ for the City,” and it’s this month’s meta answer, Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City.

I received 16 incorrect answers this month, the most common being “Lust for Life,” which is on the Rolling Stone list but unfortunately is not connected to the seven theme entries, even though it happens to be an IGGY (Pop as opposed to Azalea). Second most common was “Fool for the City,” a Foghat tune that would be a fine answer, but unfortunately didn’t make the top 500 list.

Selected User Comments:

Jeff G   Just the right combination of erasing, head scratching, and hair pulling.   

CrimsonHoo   Awesome challenge!

LB800   Loved it. So much fun!

gpagano   That’s my kind of meta–some work, enough clues to get the theme, and a nice a-ha when it all comes together.

Norm H   Brilliant — my favorite of this year.

bschoner   Very clever! I wish there was a little extra “click” for the LIVING part of the answer   I tried hard, but couldn’t find a good way to get LIVING or WONDER in the grid.

Brian Cross   I’m probably one of the few whose a-ha moment was TEST for ECHO. Being a Rush fanatic has its advantages.   This could be the only one 🙂

Katie   I almost submitted “Fool for the City.” Glad I checked the list!

patanga   Nice….great song too…..I enjoyed listening to it after solving.   You get another chance below…



Howard B   This is a Wonder-ful construction.   (Ira and Abide said similar things.)

thanman2   Solving great metas like this gives me a Lust For Life. I have no Sympathy For the Devil who doesn’t enjoy brilliance like this!

Clues That Could Have Been Musical:

Gwinns   Did you think it would be confusing to use The Who to clue “Substitute?” It threw me that you didn’t!   I wanted to make sure the clue for SUBSTITUTE hinted at the mechanism.

Evan suggests cluing THREE as [Number of Grammy Awards that Elvis Presley won in his lifetime, surprisingly]. And Redhead64 suggests cluing OATH as [With “The”, KISS song included in their ill-fated concept album “Music from The Elder”].


Here’s my attempt at singing this month’s meta song. It was fun to learn and a great song, even if I did cringe at a few of the lyrics. Enjoy!

The average rating for the puzzle was 4.54 stars out of 5, the highest of the year so far (also the highest regular-season rating for an MMMM!). The average difficulty rating was 3.61 out of 5, also the highest of the year. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Steve Bernstein from Flint, MI. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

Thanks for playing and see you in a month!