'TV on the Radio' Without Gerard Smith Just Won’t Be the Same

Nicole Fabian-Weber

gerard smithSo, this sucks big time. As many of you know, TV on the Radio's bassist Gerard Smith died of lung cancer the morning of April 20, 2011 at the measly age of 36 years old -- an age that sounds particularly crass when associated with the word "cancer." An age that's not much older than I.

As a fan, this bums me out for the obvious reasons -- he was one of the "geniuses" behind the group-of-geniuses band; I never got a chance to see them live; what will happen with future albums? And it's troubling for equally obvious reasons as a person -- he was far too young to die; I've lost people I love to cancer; it's straight-up all around crappy. But despite his terribly abbreviated life, Smith got to do what most of us fear we will leave the earth without ever doing -- he left a legacy.

I hate when people talk about "bands that changed their life" -- and that's totally not where I'm going here. Not really. I discovered TV on the Radio years ago when my boyfriend (now my husband) was on tour with his band. I was working on a short-lived TV show in Los Angeles, and had loads of free time to myself. That period of my life deceptively sucked at the time, as periods of life often do. But now? Oh, to have one day all to myself with nothing to do!

I had heard of what was referred to by some as the "super pretentious" band, but started listening to their music after finding their songs online during a portion of intense trolling. (After all, this is what one does when they have loads of free time, right?) Every song was good. I immediately bought all the albums, loaded them into my iPod, and listened for months.

When I drove to work -- and driving to work can take a long time in Los Angeles -- I listened to TV on the Radio. When I worked out, I listened to TV on the Radio. When I came home at night, I listened to TV on the Radio. Their music made otherwise boring (driving to work) and painful (coming home to an empty house each night) things manageable, pleasant even. It was a way to pass my time without being so stuck in the head that was constantly telling me lies.

Although it's become less obsessive, I still listen to TV on the Radio. In fact, I did on the subway this morning. Partly out of desire, partly out of homage. The band is a good one, and no doubt wouldn't have been the perfect combination it had become without Smith. And for that I thank him.

What bands do you listen to when you're sad, happy, anything?

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