Donald L. Merand

Music - The Latif Learned "Conversations" EP and "Demo" EP

I’ve got a pile of songs that I wrote as Latif Learned sitting on my hard drive, which have never seen the light of the internet. Sometimes I go back and listen to them and enjoy them (and I hope you do too). Other times I start playing one and have to turn it off because I’m so embarrased, usually about the lyrics. Since I’ve let go of my ambitions as famous/sad/yet strangely alluring singer/songwriter, I think it’s time to get over my embarrasment at the blemishes and just put these songs out there for posterity.

I’ll write a brief description of the song if I can remember what was going on when I wrote it. These songs were originally grouped into two albums: “Demo” and “Conversations”. “Demo” was just my catch-all for songs-that-are-pretty-good-but-don’t-have-an-album, and “Conversations” was sort of an EP, mostly instrumental/electric stuff.

(right-click the links to save them to your computer).

The “Demo” EP

Download the entire EP as one compressed ZIP file here


Listen/download here

This song is quite literal. I actually had a dream just like the one described in the song. I seem to recall that I woke up and immediately wrote the song, and recorded it the same day. I was listening to a lot of Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters) when I wrote and recorded it - can you tell?

**Update: ** My partner tells me it went like this (from chat):

we talked about our flying dreams and how we both had them and how awesome
they were, the first time we hung out

and we also talked about other recurrent dreams we had

and one of mine is defending someone i care about against some kind of
horrific attack

hence the second verse

you went home and wrote the song.

Her memory is much better than mine, and I feel like am a real jerk for not remembering that this happened. Anyhow, this song was inspired by my lovely partner-for-life, and her somewhat disturbing dreams!

My Red Shirt

Listen/download here

I remember that I wrote this somewhere in late 2005 - my first year in Boston. It’s mostly about being socially awkward and confused all of the time. It’s probably the most pop-like tune that I’ve ever written - conventional chord changes and guitar solos, no strange meter, no dissonant harmonies. I think I like it more now than I did then, because I’ve come to terms with the pop vernacular in a way that I wasn’t able to do when I was in/just out of music school.

Not Myself

Listen/download here

I woke up with the melody of this song fully developed from a dream, and an idea that it should be a song about existential doubt. Existential doubt was kind of my big thing in 2005 - I just moved to the big city, was living alone and supporting myself for the first time. I had my first full-time job, no school, and only a couple of friends in town. So I had lots of time to doubt myself and have panic attacks and write song.

So I woke up with the melody of this song in my head, and also had a certainty that it needed an upright bass. My roomate had an upright bass, but he wasn’t around. So I spent the morning learning how to play his upright bass well enough to record the bassline for this song. I had the whole recording finished by noon. When I played it for my friend Megan, she said “this is going to have a guitar solo now isn’t it?” right about the time that the guitar solo happened. What can I say - sometimes the guitar solo is the only way.

Fond But Not In Love

Listen/downlaod here

It’s a song about wanting somebody to like you, and then wishing you hadn’t wanted that.

Force of Habit

Listen/download here

I have no idea when or why I wrote this song. It’s not my favorite, but it exists, so here you go.

The “Conversations” EP

Download the entire EP as one compressed ZIP file here


Listen/download here

This is a re-make of a song that originally appeared on Exploration Slideshow, except with more electric guitars and the vocals forward instead of backward.

For Sara

Listen/download here

It is an instrumental song that I wrote for the woman who would eventually become my wife. I don’t think it was on the strength of this song – it must have been my incredible charm and charisma, and the fact that she didn’t listen too closely to the lyrics of all my songs about failed relationships and longing. On the plus side, I haven’t had any failed relationships since I met her!


Listen/download here

All songs are a reflection of how the songwriter felt in the moment that they wrote the song. I think it’s important not to spend too long writing songs for this reason - you can end up with a conflicting message, which translates poorly to the recipient/audience.

Alone with Trains

Listen/download here

Instrumental tracks really shouldn’t have titles, since one you’ve named something you can’t help but influence the imagery that happens in the listener’s mind. I should call all of my instrumental tracks “untitled”, but what can I say? I have to feel like I have some semblance of control over things, and I’ll use the black magic of language to do so if I have to. Someday, all of my songs will be “untitled”, and you’ll know that I’ve reached enlightenment, or at least peace, at that time.


Listen/download here

An anysayer is the opposite of a naysayer. Get it?


Creative Commons License The “Conversations” and “Demo” EPs by <a xmlns:cc=”” href=”> are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.