Deconstruct this Invitation?
September 9, 2008 7:47 PM   Subscribe

What relationship do the following songs have with each other: Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown (1965) Refugee (1979) Stairway to Heaven (1971) Black Magic Woman (1970) Band on the Run (1973) Walk This Way (1975) Tequila Sunrise (1973)

A class-mate of mine gets invited to a party each year where the invitation gives a hidden clue as to who the musical guest will be. This year's is a stumper and so we're turning to Big Green for help.

While there may be a music-related link here (i.e. lyrical, writer, producer, etc), it could very well be something entirely non-musical. Any MeFi music buffs find any relationship at all with those songs?

As an example, two years ago the invitation included references (which you always have to figure out) to 7 songs. Different bands and with dates from roughly 1971 through 1998. It turned out that ALL of them had been covered at some time or another by Paul Simon. He was the guest. Another thing that made the invitation easy for my classmate was that the invitation came in a Kodak box. Anyway, Paul Simon was the guest musician.

Now, one other thing: don’t look for someone who has covered all of those songs. There is NO WAY that they would use the same type of “puzzle.”

If it helps, here's an explanation of this year's invitation:

There are 7 cards with photographs on them, and each one contains a year (presumably the year the song was written). Each one depicts a song and the letters of the song are written in “hangman” style, with the initial letters given (e.g. N_________ N______ B________ - but on the card you could tell how many letters were in each word). The picture also depicted the song. He is POSITIVE of 6 of the songs; the only one we are not certain of was from 1979, showed two kids with suitcases standing next to a railroad, and they were both dressed in white long sleeve shirts and dark pants. It started with an “R” and was seven letters. Pretty sure it is “Refugee” but if anyone else has an idea of something different, let me know (e.g. is there a “Runaway” from 1979?). Also, the dates given above are the release dates for the songs.

P.S. One more thing to add: the invitation reads “One Enchanted Evening . . .”. Don’t know if that adds anything.
posted by webhund to Media & Arts (108 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, there is a song from 1979 called Runaway. *dons thinking cap*
posted by iconomy at 7:57 PM on September 9, 2008

I have no idea...but, this is, without doubt one of the most fascinating askme's in a long, long time...

The "one enchanted evening" bit.... the only musical reference that comes to mind is the song "Some Enchanted Evening" from "South Pacific" which seems way out of sync...

Good luck with this one!
posted by HuronBob at 7:57 PM on September 9, 2008

I don't know, Tom Petty seems to fit more in with the other bands than Status Quo. The cards don't have any special order, do they?
posted by starman at 8:24 PM on September 9, 2008

"Some Enchanted Evening" is a live Blue Oyster Cult Album released in September of 1978--20 years ago to the month.
posted by sourwookie at 8:25 PM on September 9, 2008

Damn. The invite reads "One Enchanted Evening."
posted by sourwookie at 8:30 PM on September 9, 2008

Nice riddle... there are a few connections with BOC (Aerosmith and Eagles producers both worked with them: Jack Douglas, Glyn Johns), but that's tenuous at best.
posted by Paragon at 8:34 PM on September 9, 2008

Stevie Nicks? She has a box set called Enchanted, Fleetwood Mac wrote Black Magic Woman, she's sung Stop Draggin' My Heart Around with Tom Petty (Refugee) and The Eagles (Tequila Sunrise), has appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone (19th Nervous Breakdown), she's covered Led Zepplin's "Rock and Roll (Stairway to Heaven), and uh.....other stuff. It says something about Steven Tyler on her wiki page but it's a weak connection, for the sake of this list.
posted by iconomy at 8:36 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

"one enchanted evening..." sounds like a prom theme from the 70s to me. i have no idea whether it's relevant or not though.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 8:36 PM on September 9, 2008

That should say "she's sung Stop Draggin' My Heart Around with Tom Petty (Refugee) and has sung with The Eagles (Tequila Sunrise) (and also had an affair with Don Henley, that lucky girl).
posted by iconomy at 8:39 PM on September 9, 2008

The name of almost every band or artist of the songs refers to some flying object or aircraft.

Santana “Sky Rockets” – I found a reference to the nickname portion by Googling for Santana and sky, so it may not be right but it fits with the other names.
Aerosmith –arrow
Led Zeppelin –German airship similar to a blimp
Paul McCartney & Wings
The Eagles

I couldn’t think of a way to relate The Rolling Stones or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers straightforwardly to an aircraft or airborne object. If this airborne connection is the right one, you might want to check whether “Refugee” is the right 1979 song, or maybe you can find a relation between these last two bands and things that fly.

That's all I have so far. Hope this helps.
posted by inconsequentialist at 8:42 PM on September 9, 2008

Ah, Tom Petty and the HB's song "Refugee" is on an album called Damn the Torpedoes.
posted by inconsequentialist at 8:43 PM on September 9, 2008

Ok, I think I know who the guest will be, or I have an idea that has to be close. One Enchanted Evening was the name of this summer's Tony Awards. A brief scan down the page reveals that one of the presenters was Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows. Fits with the flight theme and One Enchanted Evening clue. This has to be pretty close.
posted by inconsequentialist at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2008

iconomy quite possibly has the answer. (Stevie Nicks does seem to be actively touring according to her site.) The only thing that I noticed was that many of the songs' artists have names related to flight:
  • "Walk This Way": Aerosmith
  • "Tequila Sunrise": The Eagles
  • "Band on the Run": Paul McCartney and Wings
  • "Stairway to Heaven": Led Zeppelin
There's also a "Runaway" (from 1978, not 1979) by Jefferson Starship.

On preview: inconsequentialist just noticed the same thing.
posted by yz at 8:53 PM on September 9, 2008

I think inconsequentialist has it - good work! Fun. I wish there were more questions like this.
posted by iconomy at 8:58 PM on September 9, 2008

Well, there's a lot of references to magic, women, and travel in these songs. Also, the number 7...could this be a poker hand? Is there a card game or such that has a reference to hangman?

One enchanted evening...definitely something mystical there. Are each of these cards names for magic tricks?

Also maybe check how these songs have been used in movies.

(this thread should be a laugh once we know the answer)
posted by iamkimiam at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2008

I think the first album "19th Nervous Breakdown" appeared on was High Tide and Green Grass, no? Connects it to the flight theme.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2008

I have nothing specific to add other than my gut tells me that the word "enchanted" is significant. It is also my opinion that each song represents a member or the band and when you can associate the song with the members it will be obvious. For example, Stairway to Heaven could represent a band member who died while Tequila Sunrise could represent one who is an alcoholic or in recovery.

Another approach might be brute force. Most bands post their tour schedule online. Usually when they have a private party gig, it lists the date as a private party. If you can find a band that has the date of the party listed as private party or some such listing, bingo.

Lastly, if the kodak box was a significant clue, and it was, we should assume that either the postcard is significant or the game hangman or the combination.

Were these songs all on movie soundtracks that could in some way be related?

My wild guess -- Drive By Truckers
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:07 PM on September 9, 2008

Connecting the Rolling Stones song to flight: searches reveal that people apparently refer to the bass line in "19th Nervous Breakdown" as having a "dive-bombing" sound.
posted by yz at 9:10 PM on September 9, 2008

is significant or the game hangman

Counting Crows do that song called Hanging Around.
posted by iconomy at 9:13 PM on September 9, 2008

My stab at the Rolling Stones relation is a tribute album titled 19th Nervous Breakdown that was released by Air Records.
posted by inconsequentialist at 9:14 PM on September 9, 2008

iconomy nailed the final clue. Gotta be Counting Crows.
posted by inconsequentialist at 9:22 PM on September 9, 2008

"The Counting Crows"—aside from the obvious relationship with the flight theme—does also manage a connection with the fact that the song names were represented by individual spaces. Their tour listing page.

Where and when is this party supposed to occur, by the way?
posted by yz at 9:26 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Five of the seven songs feature numbers in the lyric:

!9th Nervous Breakdown - 19
Refugee - 1 ("first" technically)
Stairway to Heaven - 2
Black Magic Woman - ?
Band on the Run - 4
Walk This Way - 3
Tequila Sunrise - ?

All of the numbers are under 26 -- could the songs represent a word or name?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:31 PM on September 9, 2008

Hmmm, I wonder of there's a connection between "letters" (as in missing letters on the cards) and the travel theme.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:40 PM on September 9, 2008

My wild guess is Joan Jett. She was in a band called the Runaways in 1979.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:43 PM on September 9, 2008

RE: the "Enchanted" reference--hasn't Stevie Nicks been accused of practicing witchcraft before?
posted by magstheaxe at 10:01 PM on September 9, 2008

hasn't Stevie Nicks been accused of practicing witchcraft before?

Her publishing company is Welsh Witch Music.
posted by dw at 10:46 PM on September 9, 2008

Carrie Underwood appeared on the Enchanted soundtrack last year. But I can't get any of the songs to fit her.

"Runaway" was a B-side by Status Quo. Seems like an odd choice when "Refugee" is from the same time and fits with the rest of the artists. It can't be Joan Jett, since these are song titles, not band titles.

I just don't know.
posted by dw at 11:13 PM on September 9, 2008

I'm joining the Stevie Nicks camp.

"Stairway to Heaven" = "there's a lady who's sure, all that glitters is gold..." = "Gold dust woman"
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:22 PM on September 9, 2008

webhund- please, put me out of my misery when you know....
posted by Joe Rocket at 1:50 AM on September 10, 2008

The use of the hangman motif on postcards made me think instantly of the opening line of Dylan's Desolation Row: "They're selling postcards of the hanging." Also, the Grateful Dead released an album of Dylan covers entitled "Postcards of the Hanging."

So far, I've not been able to figure any further Dylan or Dead connection. Probably a red herring, but.....

And just as a nitpicky aside, webhund doesn't say he is invited to these parties, a classmate is.
posted by pasici at 4:51 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Five of the seven songs feature numbers in the lyric

Another clue for Counting Crows.
posted by beandip at 5:29 AM on September 10, 2008

I know this is off-topic-ish, but what were the details of the Paul Simon clues? Also, what kind of group is this that throws private parties with well known music guests?
posted by Kimothy at 7:26 AM on September 10, 2008

Response by poster: Wow. I can't believe the response this generated. I'm not big into music by any means, so it's been fascinating to watch the thought processes come out. Great ideas.

BTW, the answer will be known on 9/27 - the date of the party and will post the "answer."

P.S. to pasici - you're right; it's not me who's invited. If only - Paul Simon at a private party! Wow.
posted by webhund at 9:16 AM on September 10, 2008

Since (as someone pointed out) the Tony Awards theme was "One Enchanted Evening," maybe the guest is named Tony?

Is there anyone named Tony associated in some way with those songs? In production, lyrics, or some role other than performing?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:29 AM on September 10, 2008

Not "Counting Crows", they're booked in St. Louis on the 27th.
posted by raisingsand at 9:49 AM on September 10, 2008

Dylan connections: The Rolling Stones (Like a Rolling Stone), Travelling Wilburys included Tom Petty and George Harrison (tho not McCartney), um, ok... Looks like he's been touring all summer but is on a break now and won't start up again until mid-October.

What other artists have played at this annual party? I'm guessing from the Paul Simon thing, (and the 70s vibe of the songlist) that the audience is mainly older folks, and are going to more appreciate an older act (oldies/classic rock). Paul Simon is well known, but hasn't been exactly burning up the hit parade lately. So Stevie Nicks or Dylan are good bets. Rolling Stones or Led Zep may be too big-ticket (besides, anyone who's a clue is automatically disqualified, no?). But it has to be someone impressive enough to not be a letdown. Stevie Nicks might be on the edge, there. I really want to say Dylan.
posted by rikschell at 10:25 AM on September 10, 2008

Looking at the song titles, many sound like incidents in or episodes of a specific career.

these four work for dylan:
NNB - 1967-68 withdrawal was seen by some as a breakdown of sorts (?)
band on the run - he's been touring nonstop for like 20 years now
stairway to heaven - he had a heart infection a few years ago that took him off the road for a while :)
Black Magic Woman - he was married to a black woman for many years and was said to have nearly married Mavis Staples in the 60s

I have more trouble with the others:
refugee - tax exile? extradition or visa problems?
Walk this Way - arrest?
tequila sunrise - ?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:35 AM on September 10, 2008

Rolling Stones or Led Zep may be too big-ticket[]. I really want to say Dylan.

There are no candidates for the "R" song (checking a couple of lists (1, 2)) other than the aforementioned "Refugee", apparently.

Given some of the connections mentioned above, the association with enchantment/magic, and no currently-listed booking1 for September 27 Stevie Nicks doesn't seem at all unlikely. (You could even ask her.) But I'm not sure about the theme of flight; it's not fulfilled by all of the songs and as far as I can tell there's no very direct connection with Stevie Nicks. A red herring, perhaps.

1 This "2003" page does seem to actually refer to 2008 dates.
posted by yz at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2008

What if the year and song on each postcard corresponded to a significant event in life/career of The Mystery Guest (TMG)?

In order of year, the clues are:

1965 - Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown
1970 - Black Magic Woman
1971 - Stairway to Heaven
1973 - Band on the Run and Tequila Sunrise
1975 - Walk This Way
1979 - Refugee

So TMG had a breakdown in '65, was associated with a [presumably infamous] woman in '70, had a religious experience/conversion in '71, toured and drank a lot in '73, was arrested in '75, and ... um, did something refugee-like in '79.

That's all I got. Seems a little weak though.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:08 PM on September 10, 2008

Forgive me if Dylan is real big again. Everyone seemed to think it was a very big deal he was playing in Brooklyn last month, but I saw him about 18 years ago and it was the most meh concert ever. Maybe he's good again. But I doubt he's hard to book, and he's not filling arenas. But no matter how you slice it, he's top drawer rock history (as is Paul Simon, however faltering). Stevie Nicks, though, well, maybe I've just never seen the point of Fleetwood Mac.

"One enchanted evening" would sound better for a female artist than Dylan, though.
posted by rikschell at 12:46 PM on September 10, 2008

Ooh! Stevie Nicks has a box set titled "Enchanted." I bet it's gonna be her. Letdown city.
posted by rikschell at 12:49 PM on September 10, 2008

FWIW, Bob Dylan recorded "Some Enchanted Evening" in 1990 during a session for his Under the Red Sky album.

I love, love the connection made above with the postcards of the hanging link to Desolation Row. I don't think anyone else has suggested a reason for the hangman/postcard convention of these clues, and this seems like big deal to me.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2008

Not "Counting Crows", they're booked in St. Louis on the 27th.

Where is this party? If it's in St. Louis then obviously CC is the right answer and this is an after -party. We need to know!

Ooh! Stevie Nicks has a box set titled "Enchanted."

I mentioned that.

I don't think anyone else has suggested a reason for the hangman/postcard convention of these clues

I did mention that Counting Crows have that hit song "Hanging Around", which would tie in the hangman aspect. I don't know if the clues are on postcards per se - webhund (the OP) has only referred to them as "cards". I wish we could have a photo or two to look at...I would LOVE to see these clues.
posted by iconomy at 1:27 PM on September 10, 2008

Don't have a guess but wondered if it would be possible to see scanned images of the cards? This might help us to see clues in the images as well... Fascinating concept for an invitation!
posted by ktpupp at 2:25 PM on September 10, 2008

I don't see any way to particularly match up these periods to Dylan with the dates of the songs, but some of these songs could seem to represent times of Dylan's life (as stupidsexyflanders mentioned above):

Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown (1965) - late sixties period after Dylan crashed his motorcycle and went into hiding
Refugee (1979) - maybe a reference to Dylan holed up with The Band at the Big Pink, avoiding people and recording "The Basement Tapes"?
Stairway to Heaven (1971) - religious conversion to Christianity in the 80s
Black Magic Woman (1970) - possible reference to Dylan's marriage to Carolyn Dennis?
Band on the Run (1973) Dylan's "Neverending tour" from the 80s-90s.
Walk This Way (1975) - possible reference to Blowing in the Wind period? ("How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?")
Tequila Sunrise (1973) - don't know.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2008

I don't want the answer to be Counting Crows (just because I think Dylan would be way cooler), but there is a connection between them and Bob Dylan. Their song Mr. Jones is a clear reference to Dylan's Ballad of a Thin Man and includes the line, "I want to be Bob Dylan."
posted by pasici at 2:51 PM on September 10, 2008

I don't think we are anywhere near the answer to this one. Puzzles like this do not have answers that "kind of" fit the clues -- once you know the answer everything fits like a glove. I'd love to get some more info from the OP on this -- we need more details about the appearance of the cards and the invitation. Frankly, based on the somewhat blunt Paul Simon example, I think we are missing some crucial information and are overthinking it.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:34 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think Rock Steady's right. One artist playing a series of covers is an order of magnitude easier than a series of songs whose artists/producers have something to do with flight and numbers which is kinda like Counting Crows. As for Stevie Nicks, the box set is a tempting clue but there isn't a consistent link to the rest of the songs.
posted by twirlypen at 4:12 PM on September 10, 2008

It might also help if webhund could give us additional examples of previous years' clues and guests.

Five of the seven songs feature numbers in the lyric:

!9th Nervous Breakdown - 19
Refugee - 1 ("first" technically)
Stairway to Heaven - 2
Black Magic Woman - ?
Band on the Run - 4
Walk This Way - 3
Tequila Sunrise - ?

If we're counting "first" from "Refugee," both "first" and "second" also appear in "Band on the Run." But I think this is a red herring. If the Paul Simon example is typical, we're looking for the same kind of connection to each of the seven songs. Not "covered song A and was romantically linked with a member of the group who recorded B and had a life event thematically related to the title of song C..." (I.e., what Rock Steady and twirlypen said.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:17 PM on September 10, 2008

I'm pretty sure that Santana, Led Zep, Paul Mac, Stones and Status Quo all performed at Live Aid but I don't think either Aerosmith or The Eagles did. So ignore this, ok?
posted by iconomy at 7:38 PM on September 10, 2008

Response by poster: I've had a couple of MeFi Mail requests for more information. I am working on rounding up the details of the requests and will post more information when available.

This is a Chicago area gig, so although I personally like the Counting Crows guess the best (for its elegant, multi-step logic), the fact that they're performing in another state that evening tells me it's not it. Plus, I'm told that CC would be a bit too "young" for this particular crowd. From what I can gather, it would be more of a mid-40's/early 50's type thing.

Again, I can't believe the life this question has taken on. :) Will post more "details" when available.
posted by webhund at 8:09 PM on September 10, 2008

Well, nobody's pointed this out yet but all the songs are about women. Of course that goes for well more than half of all pop songs, but I figured it couldn't hurt to mention.

Oh, and any chance of scanning in the pictures? Perhaps with information about where the party is blacked out.
posted by Kattullus at 9:27 PM on September 10, 2008

Okay, I am officially eliminating Counting Crows.

Huron Bob was on a better track when he mentioned "Some Enchanted Evening" from the musical South Pacific. And Kattullus was right to note that the songs all concern women, specifically women who run away from someone or something, sung by the man that loves her and wants her back. Here are the lyrics for each:

Tequila Sunrise
Black Magic Woman
Stairway to Heaven
19th Nervous Breakdown
Walk This Way
Band on the Run

Earlier, I linked to the website for the most recent Tony Awards, which just happens to be titled "One Enchanted Evening." Well, it just so happens that South Pacific has been enjoying a revival on Broadway, receiving nominations for Best Actor: Paulo Tzot, and Best Actress: Keili O'Hara. Paulo actually won that night. And the lyrics to Some Enchanted Evening complement the lyrics of the other songs.

So who is the musical guest?

It can't be Paulo Tzot or Kelli O'Hara since they will both be performing in New York on September 27. Other candidates include performers known for singing "Some Enchanted Evening" or in some other role.

I actually doubt any of these people will show up as the musical guest because a production of Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein will be playing in Chicago throughout September. I suspect that some if not all members of the cast are slated for this party. Here's a list of the performers mentioned in the last link:

Mike Arthur, Cathy Lord, David Meadows, Andrea Prestinario and Sarah Megan White

Though someone more famous might still be performing at this event, scheduling these cast members seems very convenient. In any case, I think a lot of these connections are relevant.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:08 PM on September 10, 2008

This may just be coincidence, but the cover of Nicks' "Enchanted" box set has a feather. I think that'd be too an obvious clue for her though. I'm sure any huge Nicks fan would immediately think of her before getting much into the song titles.

Looking for a connection with her and Wings, all I could find was a reference to a logo from a recent tour that featured a heart with (lower-case) wings, but that may just be another coincidence as far as flying goes.

I can't find any direct relation with her and either Paul McCartney or Denny Laine. And... just to make sure, nothing with her and Linda either. So in that case it's not probably not Paul as much as it is the name of the band or the song (or the lyrics).

"Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown" may be the key here because all the other songs are among the best-known songs of their respective artists, and of those, I'd say all but Refugee and Tequila Sunrise are the songs most easily identified with those artists. If not for the Rolling Stones' entry, I'd have to think he answer had more to do with the artists and not the songs. Anything else would be rather serendipitous.

I don't think the years of the songs have any relevance. If something like the timeline theory was true, it'd be awfully hard to find song titles that matched up with such specific years. Also, (pre-Stevie) Fleetwood Mac released Black Magic Woman in '68, before Santana made it famous. So in that case, since "1970" was provided, Santana's version is the relevant one.

It's kinda funny how so many theories seem to link up five or so of the songs, but not all seven.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:56 AM on September 11, 2008

Also, what kind of group is this that throws private parties with well known music guests?

On today's edition of Dan Patrick's radio show, they were going through a list of well-known musicians and their regular asking price to perform at private events, and they had a pretty hilarious conversation invoking names like Christopher Cross, and Kool and the Gang (who are available to perform at your gathering, but without Kool). Dunno where the actual list can be found though.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:02 AM on September 11, 2008

And Kattullus was right to note that the songs all concern women, specifically women who run away from someone or something, sung by the man that loves her and wants her back.

"Band on the Run" doesn't really fit that, IMO.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:18 AM on September 11, 2008

Oh Christ! I saw "Band on the Run" but thought "Jet." Never mind me, I'm just silly.
posted by Kattullus at 4:59 AM on September 11, 2008

inconsequentialist, are you joking? I mean, not to slam Broadway, but you dangle a bunch of classic rock songs in front of this group and then deliver Rogers & Hammerstein? Now THAT's dissapointing. That's like booking Art Garfunkel instead of Paul Simon. That's like booking John McVie instead of Stevie Nicks. That's like booking Peter Yarrow instead of Dylan.

Were all these tracks released as singles? What were the B-sides? What were the album titles?
posted by rikschell at 5:10 AM on September 11, 2008

Stevie Nicks played a bat mitzvah once with Aerosmith (and 50 cent).
posted by rikschell at 5:17 AM on September 11, 2008

Fleetwood Mac played Central Park with Led Zep and other bands in 1969, but before Stevie Nicks joined the band. Mick Taylor of the Stones has worked with other members of Fleetwood Mac....


Tequila Sunrise/Twenty-One
Band on the Run/Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Black Magic Woman/Hope You're Feeling Better
Stairway to Heaven (no single)
19th Nervous Breakdown/Sad Day
Refugee/It's Rainin' Again
Walk This Way/Round and Round
posted by rikschell at 5:42 AM on September 11, 2008

B-sides and albums:

Tequila Sunrise/Twenty-One/Desperado
Band on the Run/Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five/Band on the Run
Black Magic Woman/Hope You're Feeling Better/Abraxas
Stairway to Heaven/(no single)/Led Zeppelin IV
19th Nervous Breakdown/Sad Day/(no album)
Refugee/It's Rainin' Again/Damn the Torpedoes
Walk This Way/Round and Round/Toys in the Attic

Since one had no b-side and one had no album, this is probably the wrong tree. Sorry.
posted by rikschell at 5:45 AM on September 11, 2008

No, that was a very clever idea, rikschell. I googled around for Stairway and found that it had been rereleased as a single in the early 90s with Whole Lotta Lovin' on the b side, but I don't know if that counts.
posted by iconomy at 6:47 AM on September 11, 2008

Also, it would really help to find out how the invitations arrived another year, besides the Paul Simon one.
posted by iconomy at 6:59 AM on September 11, 2008

These songs have so little in common, other than their boomer timeframe, that I'm thinking there's something else we're not getting, possibly in the photos in the invite or something else about the packaging, like how the Paul Simon invite came in a Kodak box. Is it possible these could be scanned & put on flickr, or at least described in more detail?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:56 AM on September 11, 2008

Can you tell us who any of the other mystery guests have been? Is it always a single person or could it be a band/group?
posted by iconomy at 8:12 AM on September 11, 2008

[what a completely brilliant thread!]
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:55 AM on September 11, 2008

inconsequentialist, are you joking? I mean, not to slam Broadway, but you dangle a bunch of classic rock songs in front of this group and then deliver Rogers & Hammerstein? Now THAT's dissapointing. That's like booking Art Garfunkel instead of Paul Simon. That's like booking John McVie instead of Stevie Nicks. That's like booking Peter Yarrow instead of Dylan.

No, I wasn't joking. I was attempting to find a connection between the first seven songs and whatever song "One Enchanted Evening" might refer to. In the Paul Simon case, the invitation was inside of something, a kodak box, that gave a clue about a song, "Kodachrome", that was written and recorded by the guest performer. We know that this invitation reads "One Enchanted Evening...". I thought that might be a clue that works in a similar way to the Kodak box. And OEE does have something to do with Broadway and the Tony awards.

Now maybe the release dates are also important. The OP mentioned that the release dates ranged from 1971-1998 for the Paul Simon invitation. Maybe those are important dates in the guest's career. 1971 is the year Simon and Garfunkel broke up. And, incidentally, Paul Simon was nominated for a Tony award in 1998. Finding references to Broadway musicals and Tony awards throughout may just be a coincidence, but one worth considering.
posted by inconsequentialist at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2008

Well, I think we have to work both forward and backward. If the clues point toward an unlikely artist (someone unknown, dead, or with the wrong kind of music), you're probably interpreting the clues wrong. I know many people like Broadway, and the clues may even have something to do with it, but it doesn't sound like a gig for the Rogers & Hammerstein revue. This is an exclusive private party, an annual event with an invitation designed to tease and tempt. They hired Paul Simon last year, so if they don't have an act in that league this year, everyone will be talking about it, but not in a good way. I expect it will be someone iconic, though not at the top of their game. Not washed-up, quite, but seen better days.
posted by rikschell at 10:58 AM on September 11, 2008

I totally agree that booking the performers I mentioned seems odd and somewhat not up to par with what we think the attendees expect. So mainly I want to suggest that the Broadway stuff might point toward or be associated in some way with an artist that meets Simonesque expectations.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:17 AM on September 11, 2008

what artists have had well-publicized "nervous breakdowns?"
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:20 AM on September 11, 2008

and experienced religious conversion and had alcohol issues and dabbled with mysticism/magic and have had visa issues and toured a lot and walk funny?

There's your guest right there.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:32 AM on September 11, 2008

what artists have had well-publicized "nervous breakdowns?"
and experienced religious conversion and had alcohol issues and dabbled with mysticism/magic and have had visa issues and toured a lot and walk funny?

Maybe Brian Wilson and Van Morrison are touring together. =)

I've been struggling to make the songs all connect to Rod Stewart, because he fits the demographic and is a peer to all seven of the artists, at least on some level. And because, y'know, Every Picture Tells a Story, don't it?
But I haven't been able to make it work at all.

What I've noticed about the seven songs is that the are all by bands, not individuals, and all of the bands have been inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, except Wings, but Paul McCartney has been, twice.
But that train of thought takes me nowhere, too, so I'm holding out hope for more info.
posted by Brody's chum at 11:53 AM on September 11, 2008

Annie Haslam (lead singer of Renaissance in the 70s, among other things) did an album called One Enchanted Evening, but she's probably not famous she? Right demographic age-wise though.
posted by iconomy at 12:47 PM on September 11, 2008

I spent yesterday trying to work the Haslam->Renaissance->Yardbirds angle and came up empty. Mostly because the Yardbirds are connected to everybody who ever made music ever both directly and indirectly.

Then I thought that maybe the same artist had unseated all those songs on the charts or at the Grammys, but couldn't make that work either.

I think we need more info.
posted by jrossi4r at 1:25 PM on September 11, 2008

I think we're overthinking the plate of beans.

If these songs fit the same pattern of clues as the Paul Simon one, we should be able to construct a sentence like, "All of these songs were _________ by _________" or something to that effect. I think it's a lot simpler than we're making it out to be, but we're missing something important by not being able to see the invitations.
posted by iconomy at 7:59 PM on September 11, 2008

Response by poster: As promised, here are scans of the cards that were included with the invitation:
posted by webhund at 9:19 AM on September 12, 2008

Could it be that we need to make words out of the first letter of the band or group that did each of the songs? So, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Eagles, Paul McCartney and Wings, Led Zeppelin (dammit a Z!), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Santana =
posted by onlyconnect at 9:54 AM on September 12, 2008

Thanks for the scans! Wow, very professionally done.

Now that I see the R card, I don't think it's either Refugee or Runaway, to tell the truth. There are two kids in the photo. These are really considered, well-thought out shots, and I think the photo would have only one kid in it if it were Refugee or Runaway. So maybe it's a seven letter word that ends with an S? Maybe. Or am I overplating the thinking beans again?
posted by iconomy at 10:05 AM on September 12, 2008

I have no further suggestions, but the invite cards are terrific.

Songs covered on American Idol?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:41 AM on September 12, 2008

FWIW, as soon as I saw the photo of the kids I said to myself, 'Yep, definitely Refugee'. To my eye they just look like refugees (maybe because I lived in Tucson and the Sanctuary movement got a lot of press there).

Also, I've checked every song list I could find and the only other popular song from 1979 that starts with R and has seven letters was 'Roxanne' which doesn't fit at all. And why would they use six very well-known songs and then jump to a super-obscure one?

Thanks for posting the photos, webhund. I love having something else to focus on besides the elections.
posted by Brody's chum at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2008

I'm wondering if this might be more of a word puzzle than the last one, because of the "hangman" and empty blank nature of the song clues. I think I'm wrong above with the idea that maybe we're supposed to take the first letter of the artist. Looking at the pictures, though, it seemed odd to me that they double-stressed the first letter of each song, i.e., both by giving it in the clue, and then by making it giant alongside the year the song was released. That makes me wonder whether we're supposed to be doing something with those initials, or with other first initials of the words. Or maybe last initials. Or something.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:57 AM on September 12, 2008

The fact that the photos are sepia tone struck me: just a stylistic decision? Or is it a clue? Are there any well-known album covers which have sepia-tone photos? (Yeah, I know, I'm stretching here.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:50 PM on September 12, 2008

I hope this isn't stepping on the fun of figuring it out, but I don't think it is anymore than muscling it out by looking at tour dates. This is the answer. (Linked to for the sake of those who don't want it spoiled for whatever reason.)

It's the correct theme.
posted by Airhen at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2008

I'm going to be careful not to spoil anything outright, but if the info in the story Airhen linked to is correct then the scans provide all the info we need to guess it.

But I hope the story is wrong. It is a gossip column-type piece, and it has some facts a little different from the facts we got from webhund, so I am allowing for the possibility that the writer's source decided he'd figured out the clues and just informed the writer of the act rather than knowing for sure. The writer doesn't give the solution to the puzzle, he just gives the name of the act.
The 20/20 hindsight solution I can see is a pretty big letdown after all the work I've put into this. I was expecting something more elegant.

But the dates sure fit perfectly.
posted by Brody's chum at 3:33 PM on September 12, 2008

The dates fit perfectly, the Sam Zell party is obviously the one we're talking about, but the artist makes no sense as an answer. Because the invitation/clues were assembled with such care and expense (photo shoots?) I think the quality of the puzzle itself is going to be consistent with the overall spend. I'm putting my money on a Zell-funded disinformation campaign.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:11 AM on September 13, 2008

Why would one of the clues already have the lead to the answer on it? What are the rest of the clues for, then? Was it a multiple choice thing...guess which one of these bands is showing up?

Not making any sense. But now I don't feel like thinking about it anymore, just in case the article is correct.
posted by iconomy at 2:29 PM on September 13, 2008

I think the artist mentioned in the article about Zell's party is correct. You can match the titles of the songs from the invitation to similar song titles by this artist. For example, you'll find a list of (some of the) songs from this artist here. Using the song titles as numbered there, there is a correspondence:
2. --> Black Magic Woman
4. --> Runaway (see the picture on the invitation and think "trains")
5. --> Band on the Run
7. --> this one is obvious
8. --> Stairway to Heaven

I think the other two songs titles correspond to song titles on the album from this artist which sold second best... but I'll leave that to anyone who still cares about this puzzle.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:48 PM on September 15, 2008

I'm starting to think it's the artist mentioned. I noticed that one of the cards has a resemblance to one of the artist's album covers, and another card might have a passing reference to another album cover.

Oh, and some part of me thinks 3. --> Walk This Way, but that's a bit oblique.
posted by dw at 8:12 AM on September 16, 2008

I can't thank all of you enough for the time and enrgy spent on this. I am webhund's friend who is going to the party. Yes, The Eagles are in Chicago on 9/24 and 9/25, and then going to Green Bay on the 29th so remaining in Chicago would be easy for them. I am still not convinced. Zell has thrown this party every other year for YEARS and there has never been a leak. Now that he owns The Chicago Tribune, the Sun Times gets a leak? Unlikely. Also, I have known the alleged guest was The Eagles for several days now and cannot find a good theme with the cards. Yes, "Black Magic Woman" matches up well with "Witchy Woman" but I cannot come up with 6 more good ones. Can anyone match up the cards to The Eagles? Even though the theme of the puzzle will be different than last year (and as Paul Simon was guessed by many, this year's puzzle is supposed to be harder), I am assuming that each clue in the puzzle works the same way (i.e. it will not be Black Magic Woman tied in as I mentioned earlier, and then the guitar that Page used in Stairway to Heaven is the same type as used in Hotel California). There should be some similar logic to all of the answers. Anyway, hope this was fun and we'll know for certain in 11 days.

Take care.
posted by dbubbab at 8:54 AM on September 16, 2008

The sepia tone of the band's website has me convinced more than anything else.
posted by inconsequentialist at 1:18 PM on September 16, 2008

Also, I have known the alleged guest was The Eagles for several days now and cannot find a good theme with the cards.

My theory is the songs and years are actually decoys. The images, though, all seem to refer to the Eagles.

Look what the "witchy woman" is wearing as a choker -- a cow skull. Seems odd a "voodoo" priestess would wear a symbol like that around her neck, given it's a Southwestern motif. But that didn't ping anything until someone suggested it was the Eagles, since a cow skull is on the cover to One Of These Nights.

And that's when I noticed that the band on the "Band On The Run" card is arrayed similarly to how the Eagles are on Desperado.

But the rest... I don't know. The "19th Nervous Breakdown" card makes me think of "Life In The Fast Lane" (surely make you lose your mind, also the chalk marks look like lines of cocaine). "Walk This Way" could be "Lyin' Eyes" (the rich old man).

But this all seems like an incredible reach. The "Band On The Run" card, though, really does look like the cover of Desperado.
posted by dw at 2:10 PM on September 16, 2008

dbubbab, Welcome to Meta. $5 beans well spent. This is a terrific first question. Does the Trib own any record labels? Are the Eagles on a label or have a manager who is in some way associated with the Trib Co or Mr. Zell? While I don't think that ties into the clues, it might make the answer more likely. Oh, sometimes the obvious answer (The Eagles as reported by the Scum Times) is the right one.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:40 PM on September 16, 2008

Without knowing how to do the research, could it be that each of the songs on the cards are related somehow to other Eagles songs from the same year— for example, each one was #2 to a #1 Eagles song on the Billboard Top 500? That could explain, for example, why the year is so prominent on the cards, and also why one of the songs is an Eagles song: It could be an Eagles song that points to the Eagles song that is the clue.

Otherwise I don't see how the cards make any sense relating to the Eagles. Tequila Sunrise makes it seem like it can't be them unless something like this is the case.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:23 PM on September 16, 2008

The Eagles didn't release any singles or albums until 1972, though. I like the more general idea of each song, including Tequila Sunrise, somehow pointing to an Eagles song, but simply matching years doesn't work.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:04 AM on September 17, 2008

For what it's worth:

Find how many individuals are pictured in each picture.
Find the band name for each picture.
Take the number of individuals and count that many letters forward in the band name (without the "The" where appropriate).
Don't the letters end up being EAGLESR?

Not sure what to do with the R from the Rolling Stones, though maybe there's a clue that it should be the zeroth letter there because of the straightjacket????

Or this could be completely wrong....
posted by zeugitai_guy at 1:27 PM on September 18, 2008

Don't the letters end up being EAGLESR?

Perhaps the secret guest is actually the Reagles -- a pretty decent Eagles cover band from Schaumberg?

I'm kidding -- I know very few cover bands from the Chicagoland area. Very interesting though, z_guy.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:32 PM on September 18, 2008

At this point, I have to say, I would be horribly disappointed if all of us weren't invited to the party.

Mr. Zell... we care more about your puzzle than most of your guests!
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:41 AM on September 19, 2008

perhaps the secret guest is actually the Reagles

I think you meant the Gargles. Never much cared for their raspy-throaty renditions of Eagles cover-tunes myself, but who am I to criticize the musical sensibilities of those who can afford them?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:12 AM on September 19, 2008

Today's the big day...please report back as soon as you can!
posted by jrossi4r at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2008

Yes, please tell us as soon as you can. I need a good night's sleep.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2008

Yes, please! To my instant-gratification-accustomed brain, this has been torture. I can't believe I've been following the thread for three weeks.
posted by Cobalt at 4:29 PM on September 27, 2008

Today's Sun-Times says it was the Eagles.
posted by raisingsand at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2008

I've been doing searches about this for three days now, but my google-fu is weak. I know that someone, somewhere must have posted about this party on the internet by now, but I can't for the life of me find anything.
Please, anyone who has a link, post it.

The completionist in me thanks you in advance.
posted by Brody's chum at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2008

Here you go (you'll have to scroll to the bottom to see the reference, but it's confirmed here that it was the Eagles).
posted by carrienation at 5:26 PM on September 29, 2008

So it was the Eagles.

Will the original poster have the decency to explain the clues?

We may be working for you for free, but you should at least have the decency to explain why we were working for you. Anything less would be a social affront worthy of being disbarred from any further invitations to any further parties - Zell's, MetaFilter's, or otherwise.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:34 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Finally, HERE is the explanation of the invitation that I received from my classmate, who, as he indicates, received his explanation from the "Zell camp."

It's taken a little longer than I expected to get, but apparently 10 days is a lifetime on the InterNets, given the number of charming demands I've received via MeFiMail. Once again, being not a music nut myself, I am astounded at the level of interest this question has shown. And now, without further delay.........

Well, I told you it would be a little difficult to have figured out. Here is the “explanation” I received from the Zell camp:

the truth is always in the numbers

for all of you who enjoy looking for clues here is how the clues add up

the save the date clearly stated

one enchanted evening = 09.27.08

0 + 9 + 2 + 7 + 0 + 8 = 26

one enchanted evening = 26

the clues included images of 7 songs by 7 bands and the year of each song

x = adding the bands letters

y = adding up the numbers of the year

x + y = 26

26 = one enchanted evening

for everyone else

we leaked the story to a minor player in the news industry

Obviously they were not the ones who leaked the story – just a chance to poke fun at the Sun Times.

As to the puzzle, for Tequila Sunrise: Eagles = 6, Year = 1 + 9 + 7 + 3 = 20; Total = 26 (same as One Enchanted Evening).


Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin = 11; Year = 1 + 9 + 7 + 1 = 18; Total = 29.

Refugee: Petty = 5 (or Heartbreakers = 13); Year = 1 + 9 + 7 + 9 = 26; Total = 31 (or 39).

Band on the Run: Wings = 5; Year = 1 + 9 + 7 + 3 = 20; Total =25

Walk This Way: Aerosmith = 9; Year = 1 + 9 + 7 + 5 = 22; Total = 31;

Black Magic Woman: Santana = 7; Year = 1 + 9 + 7 + 0 = 17; Total = 24;

Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown; Stones = 6 (or Rolling Stones = 13, or THE Rolling Stones = 16); Year = 1 + 9 + 6 + 6 = 22; Total = 28 (or 35, or 38).
posted by webhund at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2008

Thanks for posting the solution!

I don't think anybody was really expecting a numerical solution (add up the digits in each year and find the one that adds up to the sum of the digits in the date of the party; choose the corresponding band). Perhaps this was because of the way you originally stated the problem - what relationship do the following songs have with each other: - which sent people off on a wild goose chase. (Not that I blame you for the way you stated the problem; you didn't know the solution!)

With these sort of loose puzzles there isn't necessarily a single solution. I liked zeugitai_guy's solution. It's kind of amazing that those letters spell out EAGLESR if this was only coincidence. (The extra R never bothered me; it obviously stood for "Red herring"!)

Anyway, thanks again for one enchanting puzzle!
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:20 PM on October 7, 2008

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