2021 Puzzle 2: “Support System” Solution

The February MMMM challenged solvers to find a famous song. The grid contains three 15-letter words: PALATE CLEANSERS, HERCULEAN EFFORT, and NEEDLE AND THREAD. These theme entries all contain the consecutive four letters L, E, A, and N. Hmmm. If you look directly below those letters, you see the two letters M and E. From there it’s not too hard to get to the classic soul hit Lean on Me, this month’s meta answer.

I had a little extra grid space and enjoyed the chance to put BILL [First name of an iconic singer who won his third Grammy in 1987] in there as well as WITH/HERS to give a shout-out to the song’s iconic composer and singer Bill Withers. Quite a few solvers noticed and let me know they found it – thanks!




Meta Song:

I hope this one makes you smile as much as we did when making it:


Selected Solver Comments:

Wendy Walker   My first MMMM puzzle! Thanks!   Quite a few new solvers this month – welcome!

Katiedid   I like seeing his name in the grid, and learning that he won a Grammy for Lean on Me in 1987 – long after he wrote and sang it.

Naptown Kid   One of so many great musicians we lost last year. Nice nod to a terrific song.


Alternative Music Clues:

WannabeCoder suggests cluing LOTR as [Trilogy referenced by Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” for short].

Redhead64 suggests cluing IDRIS as [Actor Elba who appeared in Angie Stone’s music video for “I Wanna Thank Ya”].

pbfrommn suggests cluing BMX as [___ Bandits (Scottish band)].



Quiara Vasquez   How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? You put it in the microwave until its bill withers.

LaceyK   Thanks for making today a Lovely Day!

Darcy Dick   That fits the Bill, Withers you like it or not.

Jesse Lansner   I was worried solving this meta might require a HERCULEAN EFFORT, but it turned out the difficulty was more at the PALATE CLEANSER level.

Laurabrarian   If we are wise, we know that there’s always toMMMMorrow.


A total of 504 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.19 stars out of 5, and the average difficulty rating was 2.16, on the easier side. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Todd Christo of Vienna, VA. Thanks to Laura (subbing for Matt Gaffney who just had his second child) 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!