2020 Puzzle 4: “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” Solution

The April MMMM challenged solvers to find a song from the ’60s. The grid contains no obvious theme entries. So what’s going on? After a little staring, you might notice the first and last names of all four Beatles “broken up” in the grid as follows:

PEPA/ULEE                    DMC/CART/NEYO
ADJ/OHNO                     LEN/NONES
SERI/NGOS                   LEAFS/TAR/ROOTS

Great! Now what? Turns out the same mechanism can be used to find a famous Beatles song similarly broken up in the fourth row down: AFALL / MYLO / VING –> All My Loving, which is this month’s meta answer. The song has Paul singing to his lover that he will stay true even though they are apart, maybe because breaking up is hard to do?

A total of 19 solvers submitted the incorrect answer “Come Together,” which does tie in to the mechanism nicely. A few of them have made a case that they should get credit, since it’s not clear that one should look further after finding all four Beatles. It is also the case that several people mentioned continuing to search after finding “All My Loving,” since they weren’t sure that was the correct answer. It’s a good time to be generous, and I’ve made a compromise. Solvers who sent in “Come Together” will get credit for a correct solution this month, but they will receive one point instead of two, and not be eligible for the mug drawing.

Quite a few folks expressed puzzlement over two clues with twists, so I thought I’d explain them. NONES is clued as [Prayer time after a sext to a Christian?]. In Christianity, the day consists of seven canonical hours. The noon service is called sext and the next one at 3 p.m. is called nones. ONEG is clued as [Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Elvis Presley’s supergroup, for short?]. Cobain, Morrison, and Presley all had the rare blood type O negative. Such people are universal donors, since their blood can be used in a transfusion to anyone in any other blood group, which is pretty super if you think about it. This clue was suggested by test solver Charles Montpetit.


Meta Song:

We recorded this month’s video right before social distancing guidelines went in, so you get to see the band perform this in a NYC studio without wearing masks. This may be my favorite MMMM video yet – we had a blast making it!


Selected Solver Comments:

Trout Almondine   That was just a delightful, gorgeous puzzle. Incredibly well constructed.   Thanks!

cjbaar   One of my favorites in a while.   Thanks!

austinburns   After finding the four beatles, what is prompting us to also find the song the same way?    While many people loved the puzzle, a few solvers mentioned the lack of a 100% click, which is a bit of a bummer. Once you’ve found the meta answer, you should feel sure it’s right.

jps   I was going to guess Come Together but wasn’t happy with it and looked further.  I could have created a column with COM/ETO/GET/HER, making that the meta answer. I bet that would have given people a louder click!

jefe   All My Loving is the two-ball multiball mode on the Beatles pinball machine.   I did not know that!

CromsFury   Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of their break-up. 🙁   April 10, 1970.

Chris Popp   Wow! This is instantly one of my favorite metas of all time.   Thanks!


Alternative Music Clues:

jagoandlitefoot suggests cluing MELEE as [Dogleg album that Pitchfork named “Best New Music” in March 2020].

damefox suggests cluing MUD as [“___ on the Tires” (Brad Paisley hit)].

Redhead64 suggests cluing OH NO as [Album by OK Go featuring “Here It Goes Again”].

Evan suggests cluing CART as [Vehicle that Gwen Stefani rides in during the music video for “Hollaback Girl”].



Jwaan   Afraid you’ve got quite a Beatle infestation in this grid.

DCole324   How do I feel after solving the meta? I Feel Fine!

Mortman   It was hard at first and I thought that I’d only finish With a Little Help From My Friends. However, then things began to Come Together. When I finished I said to myself “I Feel Fine” maybe I’ll go down The Long And Winding Road to the Norwegian Wood via Penny Lane…

Abide   Constructor: You Won’t See Me (1965) // Solvers: We Can Work It Out (1966)

Jerry Miccolis   I scoured the grid for YOKO, as the catalyst for all the breaking-up. No dice. (But there was an OHNO).

ThirdChord   Mind the Gap!

yosser   Hey, you can’t hide my answer away.


A total of 254 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month, and an additional 19 got partial credit. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.16 stars out of 5, and the average difficulty rating was 3.25. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Brian Kell from Munich, Germany (our first European winner!). 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 next month!