2018 Puzzle 4: “Petty Fractures” Solution

The April MMMM challenged solvers to find a song from the 1980s. The title, “Petty Fractures,” is a pretty clear nod to the late, great Tom Petty. Six columns of the grid contain the letters {A,D,R,E,A, and M} in order, separated by some “fracturing” black squares. Doing a little parsing gives you Runnin’ Down a Dream, one of Petty’s biggest hits, and this month’s meta answer.

There were two versions of the puzzle this month. The hard one clued ENDS as [Termini], while the normal one clued ENDS as [What six M’s in this puzzle grid are, in a way]. Solvers were given both, and many (but not all) chose the easier version. Why two versions? My test solvers had a harder time finding the meta than I would have liked for a month four, and I wanted to provide a little help. In hindsight, I wish I had thought of not having any other M’s in the grid other than the ones in “A DREAM,” and perhaps just having four of them with circles around the M’s to make MMMM!

A few solvers submitted contenders for alternate answers: “Shattered Dreams,” the 1988 Johnny Hates Jazz hit, and “Broken Dreams,” a relatively obscure Gordon Lightfoot song. I couldn’t accept either of these, only because they lack a clear tie-in to the “Petty Fractures” title.

Meta Song:

I set out to learn the meta answer each month, and I had a lot of fun fooling around with this one with my trio (so much fun that we will be including it in our set and doing a proper recording in the next few months). You get to watch us learn our jazzed-up version here – apologies for the less-than-stellar audio:


Selected Solver Comments:

The Duke of Prunes   Impressive construction!   Thank you!

Mlessie   The “aha moment” on this one was one of the best in awhile.

Jeff G.   Nice of you to come out with two versions, everybody should be happy.   Well, almost everyone.

Kaille   So now I have a new ear worm to make me crazy.

LB800   Still cannot believe he’s gone.

kaymook   I share a birthday (Oct 20) with TP, one of my very favorite songwriters. God rest his soul.

Raygirl   Love that you included the “a,” which I only noticed after all the dreams.   Another reason that “Shattered Dreams” doesn’t quite work.

Theodreiser   Meta no problem, especially with title, but that grid- crazy hard!   I agree–somehow this month’s came out pretty hard. I plan on making the fill easier for the next few puzzles.


Clues That Could Have Been Musical:

Redhead64 suggests cluing SELL as [When tripled, 1996 David Gray Album].

Evan suggests cluing HARMLESS as [Deep cut by Coldplay with the lyric “It couldn’t hurt you”] and VICE as [Miranda Lambert song with the lyric “Said I wouldn’t do it, but I did it again”].

Charles Montpetit suggests cluing TOTAL as [“___ Eclipse of the Heart” (Bonnie Tyler hit)] and PURR as [“___-fect” (Eartha Kitt’s greatest hits album)].

Stribbs mentions that TOTAL was a ’90s R&B group.



Small Wave Dave   I won’t back down, but I do read down (fortunately).

Laurabrarian   The waiting for next month’s MMMM is the hardest part.


A total of 187 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.1 stars out of 5, and the average difficulty rating was 3.56, both the highest of the year so far. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Philip Wilcox from Riverview, NY. 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!