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"Hi Pat! Thanks so much for the mixtape. I appreciate you remembering my birthday."

"Glad you enjoyed it! The travel industry has been slow, so I've really been getting back into my music collection."

"So, not to be ungrateful, but I think you sent me the wrong case. Are you working on some sort of mashup or medley compilation? Because some of those blends are going to take a LOT of skill to mix!"

"No, it was the right case."

"C'mon Pat, the title is "You" [Chris Young]/"Roll Over D.J." [Jet]. I don't know HOW you'd mash those two songs up, but you have to admit that's a weird title for a mixtape...unless...oh, this is another puzzle, isn't it?"

"Happy Birthday!"


Thanks, Pat. Good thing Pat isn't a lawyer too, or it would take my kids 20 years just to decipher my will. I'm getting too old for this, so can you please help figure out the actual songlist, and what Pat's shenanigans are?

First, here's the song listing as Pat printed it:

  1. "At Last" [Etta James]/"6/10" [Dodie]
  2. "Like a Stone" [Audioslave]/"Number One" [Chaka Khan]
  3. "Empty Plane" [Dar Williams]/"From the Ghetto" [Dread Flimstone & The Modern Tone Age Family]/"Just One Fix" [Ministry]
  4. "Note to Self" [Jake Bugg]/"Count the Days" [Inez & Charlie Foxx]
  5. "Rise And Shine" [The Cardigans]/"Tree Tops" [Eisley]/"Over and Over and Over" [Jack White]
  6. "Goddess on the Prairie" [Hot Hot Heat]/"Third Swan" [King Creosote & Jon Hopkins]/"Halfway to Heaven" [Europe]
  7. "Talk" [Coldplay]/"True Blue" [Madonna]/"Some Kind of Bliss" [Kylie Minogue]
  8. "City Electric" [Anberlin]/"Ol' Red" [Blake Shelton]/"Commotion" [Creedence Clearwater Revival]
  9. "Zero Zero One" [Adrian Sherwood]/"After All" [Al Jarreau]/"Head Alone" [Julia Jacklin]/"Penny Lane" [The Beatles]/"Jet" [Wings]
  10. "Goin' Crazy" [Natalie]/"I'm Too Sexy" [Right Said Fred]/"Alcohaulin' Ass" [Hellyeah]
  11. "Some Change" [Boz Scaggs]/"Top Back" [T.I.]/"Cara Mia" [Jay & The Americans]/"Car Wash" [Rose Royce]/"The Cradle of Humankind" [Flogging Molly]

Second, I had the songs on shuffle play, and I've never been very good knowing song titles, so all I have about the actual contents of the disc are the bands whose songs I heard. I've listed them in alphabetical order, but I have no idea how this corresponds to Pat's listing:

  • The B-52s
  • Blondie
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark
  • Pink Floyd
  • R.E.M.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Steely Dan
  • Stevie Wonder
  • System of a Down
  • The Who

Footnote

For those of you who have never listened to music on a medium where the songs are burned in a linear physical order, shuffle play was a feature to play the songs in a "random" order; sorry for the pedantry, but I once had to explain to my kids why an album had "sides".

Hints

#1:

Some important information in Pat's songlist may seem irrelevant, and some irrelevant information in Pat's songlist may seem important.

#2:

Yay. Today, Pat sent me another disc, with the note "One song that wouldn't fit on the last disc!" The title of the song that Pat has listed is:

12. "Amazing" [Aerosmith]/"It's Over" [John Legend]/"Turn It On" [Franz Ferdinand]/"Legend" [Twenty One Pilots]

I listened, and I know it's another Stevie Wonder song, but I can't remember the name.

#3:

Another note from Pat: "Hey, I know how much you love Rush, so here's another continuation for your mixtape!" Included with the note is a disc with the following inconceivable title for a single song:

13. "Circus" [Britney Spears]/"Over Me" [Lisa Marie Presley]/"Holding on to Heaven" [Nickelback]/"Dweller On The Threshold" [Van Morrison]/"For America" [Jackson Browne]/"And Now" [Della Reese]/"Cotton Heads" [Caravan Palace]/"The Shape I'm In" [The Band]

Nickelback, Pat? Nickelback? I didn't even have the heart to listen, much as I love Rush.

#4:

The artists given in the song list are for colour only. Any song in the listing could be replaced by any cover version without changing the puzzle. However, the artist list for the actual contents of the disc are significant.

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    $\begingroup$ "I once had to explain to my kids why an album had 'sides'"; oh, you mean back in the 1900s when phones had those curly things coming out of them? 🤣 well, now I feel old; thanks for that! 🙃 $\endgroup$ Oct 10 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Tacoタコス I read that vinyl sales exceeded CD sales in 2020 for the first time since the 1980s. My kids were young in the gap when CDs were dominant, but streaming hadn't taken over yet. $\endgroup$ Oct 10 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ How do you do shuffle play on a mixtape? That was a fancy new feature that came with CD players wasn't it? $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Oct 12 at 8:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Steve: I took the "mixtape" definition from Wikipedia, which uses the term to describe a new collection recorded to any medium. The gift in this puzzle is a CD. $\endgroup$ Oct 12 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ Well, actually a few minutes ago I spotted the additional hint you were referring to - I have them all now and am writing up :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Oct 14 at 12:42
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Oh, this is a fabulous puzzle - seemingly impossible to break into at first sight, but then when you make a breakthrough you start to spot more and more little hints as to how to solve the rest of it...

The mixtape is titled:

J DOVER

and its coded tracklist is as follows:

1. X (System of a Down)
2. AS (Stevie Wonder)
3. PEG (Steely Dan)
4. TIME (Pink Floyd)
5. STAND (R.E.M.)
6. ATHENA (The Who)
7. RAPTURE (Blondie)
8. ELDORADO (Electric Light Orchestra)
9. AEROPLANE (Red Hit Chili Peppers)
10. LOCOMOTION (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)
11. MESOPOTAMIA (The B-52s)

How do we find all of this out? The secret lies in realising that:

when placed next to each other in a string, these groups of song titles form cryptic crossword clues that indicate the mixtape's name and each song's title!

Taking the title as an example:

"You" [Chris Young]/"Roll Over D.J." [Jet]

1. First, strip out the artist names, speech marks and slashes:

You Roll Over D.J.

2. Now solve as a cryptic clue.

Here, 'You' is the definition, 'Roll' is an anagram indicator, and 'Over D.J.' are the letters to be anagrammed. This enables us to name the mixtape 'J DOVER', i.e. the OP's name!

The song titles can be resolved as follows:

(Definition part in square brackets)

1. At Last 6/[10] = X : (-si)X (because 10 is 'X' in Roman numerals)

2. [Like] a Stone Number One = AS : A + S(-tone)

3. Empty Plane From the Ghetto Just One [Fix] = PEG : P(-lan)E + G(-hetto)

4. Note to Self [Count the Days] = TIME : TI (Note) + ME (Self)

5. [Rise] And Shine Tree Tops Over and Over and Over = STAND : S(-hine) + T(-ree) + AND (followed by two reversals that cancel each other out!)

6. [Goddess] on the Prairie Third Swan Halfway to Heaven = ATHENA : (-pr)A(-irie) + THE + (-sw)AN< ('to Heaven' is a reversal indicator here)

7. Talk True Blue [Some Kind of Bliss] = RAPTURE : RAP (Talk) + TRUE*

8. [City] Electric Ol' Red Commotion = ELDORADO = OLRED* + ADO (Commotion)

9. Zero Zero One After All Head Alone Penny Lane [Jet] = AEROPLANE : A(-ll) + (-z)ERO + P (Penny) + LANE

10. [Goin'] Crazy I'm Too Sexy Alcohaulin' Ass = LOCOMOTION : LOCO (Crazy) + IMTOO* + (-alcohauli)N

11. Some Change Top Back Cara Mia Car Wash [The Cradle of Humankind] = MESOPOTAMIA : SOME* + TOP< + (-car)AMIA

The two additional songs added as hints also fall out similarly:

12. Amazing It's Over Turn It On [Legend] = SUPERSTITION : SUPER (Amazing) + STI< + TI< + ON

13. Circus Over Me Holding on to Heaven Dweller On The Threshold For America And Now Cotton Heads [The Shape I'm In] = CIRCUMSTANCES : CIRCU(M(ST + A(-merica) + N(-ow) + C(-otton))E)S
i.e. CIRCUS containing ME, in turn containing ST ('saint', i.e. 'Heaven Dweller'), the threshold (first letter) for America and the heads of Now and Cotton.

My solving path and key break-in points:

I first solved the twelfth song title in the hint, spotting Amazing=Super and connecting it with the Stevie Wonder song 'Superstition'. I then spotted that the other song titles contributed wordplay, and the odd-word-out at the end fell out as the intended definition. Now to apply this discovery to other clues!

At this point, with all 11 songs unknown it seemed a pretty tricky task to deduce wordplay that enabled song titles to be formed, for which I would then have to search each band's back-catalogue to try and work out which artist had performed it (assuming I didn't already know the song myself). However, spotting TOP< and SOME* in #11 led me to MESOPOTAMIA and the B-52's. Great, it was working!

#10 (LOCOMOTION) was next to fall, then #9 (AEROPLANE), #8 (ELDORADO) and the mixtape title itself (J DOVER). However, it was only when I realised that #1 might be 'X' that a couple of observations struck me - the number of letters in each of the song titles matched their track number and all of the songs had one-word titles! With about half the artists remaining, the rest now fell much more easily, since I could now more efficiently target the relevant back-catalogues with stricter criteria: STAND, then AS, PEG, TIME, ATHENA and RAPTURE. Phew!

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    $\begingroup$ 100% correct, and perfectly well explained! So glad that you got it, and seem to have enjoyed it :-) Also, thanks for getting it when you did...it was getting much harder to generate additional hints! $\endgroup$ Oct 14 at 13:53

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