Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

For a Song by Elfman

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 May 2022

We have been expecting a tough puzzle for a while and, for us, this was it. The preamble instructed us to do a number of different things. We needed to spot a song title (its name would substitute ‘a song’ in the title) that was clearly going to be the key as that was to tell us how four normally-clued answers were to be treated before entry. Their definitions (the adjusted answers) were ‘inserted anywhere’ in the clues. Another four answers were to have a different treatment and would give us wordplay only in the clues. ‘Definitions of the second set’s answers appear elsewhere’. My, oh my!

Of course my first read through the clues included a hunt for Elfman’s admission to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit and he didn’t exactly shine. All I found was ‘red’, ‘Discover daughter leaving red meat (6)’. (Some sort of vegan clue?) We took the D(aughter) out of RED VEAL and found REVEAL. Well, a rather muted ‘Cheers! Elfman.

Lots of odd things were happening in our grid before we had a hint of what was going on. We had INNER, PLANED, CONES, ELECTRIC and probably SPLIT that didn’t correspond at all to their wordplay and a few inexplicable words appearing in clues ‘Ice cream treat’, ‘subordinate to success’, ‘ballerina’, ‘smoothed’.

I imagine the p.d.m. for most solvers was spotting that the clue to ‘Actor Dan of Wicked (7)’ gave an anagram of DAN OF = the actor FONDA, whilst the solution appeared to be the ballerina FONTEYN, and, of course ‘ballerina’ appeared as an extra word in the ‘SPLIT’ clue. So DA (Russian for ‘Yes’), became TEYN an anagram, or ‘bananas’ NYET, and, of course a BANANA SPLIT is an ‘Ice cream treat’. Now we understood the CONES in 5ac, where the clue had said CYESES. A simple YES had become an inverted NO.

So ‘For YES, we have NO (anagrammed = bananas)’ (change YES to a jumbled NO) as the substituted title and BANANAs were going to be missing from three other clues (we have no bananas). Those were not easy to find. Pretty Things in clue 17 produced ELECTRIC BANANA and clue 8 defined that with an extra ‘smoothed’. ‘Choose a cinnabar after processing (8, two words)’ = ELECT + A CINNABAR*.

Tea told us that SECOND BANANA is a ‘subordinate to success’ and BANANA LAND is Queensland so we had our four missing bananas but still had to find two more ‘yeses’ becoming anagrammed ‘no’. Scots AYE and NAE seemed a likely candidate in 11ac where PLAYED had become PLANED with that mystrious ‘smoothed’ in clue 8d now making sense as it defined the new word.

We were left with INNER to explain. ‘Esoteric in the ‘BANANA LAND’ clue defined ‘inner’ but somehow we had to work out how we could find a foreign version of YES, with its NO jumbled. This was the toughest of the lot! It had to be JA becoming NEIN* so the wordplay led to JAR becoming INNER and that clue to JAR? ‘Rabble doesn’t have to fall over conflict (5)’ Rabble = JABBER and that ‘doesn’t have ‘EBB’ = to fall (over, or reversed)and JAR = conflict (not WAR as we had suspected.)

There was one thing more to do. We needed the Internet to tell us that Frank SILVER and Irving COHN wrote ‘Yes, We Have No Bananas‘ and we had to find their surnames in an appropriate shape (clearly a banana) in the grid, adjust one of them thematically, creating two new words, and highlight both names. ELOINS and LAND provided the words to treat with ON (NO*) becoming SI and SILVER and COHN obligingly appeared in banana shape on a diagonal – where else? What a stunning compilation!


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