Wilbur’s “Your City Gave Me Asthma”, an ode to what once was
You know I’ve tried hard to love me too;
For those who are unfamiliar with the gaming and YouTube scene, Wilbur Soot (or Will) is a British musician and content creator. He is now most notably known as a Twitch streamer, since his time of being the co-founder and editor of the YouTube channel SootHouse. He is also part of the DreamSMP, a survival multiplayer Minecraft server started by fellow content creator Dream (and the Dream Team). Aside from his solo album and comedy songs, Wilbur is also the lead singer and part of the British indie band, Lovejoy.
(P.S. I actually really enjoy their music, so I highly recommend you to stream Lovejoy everywhere!)
In a recent Just Chatting livestream (henceforth referred to as “the livestream”), Wilbur shared the background behind the tracks of his album Your City Gave Me Asthma. Though he has said that he doesn’t feel like this is ‘his’ album anymore (dedicated more to his audience rather than his own), I wanted to share my reflections on the lyrics of these 7 tracks.
You can listen to Your City Gave Me Asthma here.
Trigger warning: Discussions of mental health, suicide, anxiety, self-worth
The title of this album is from a lyric in this track (Your city gave me asthma, So that’s why I’m fucking leaving). I adored this song the most, in terms of the underlying message behind it and its tune (I’m a sucker for a good tune I can immediately belt my heart out to).
“Jubilee Line” refers to one of the stations in London’s underground tube. I’m uncertain if this particular station was where Wilbur made his observations, but he describes what he observed from his experience on the tube.
Jubilee Line addresses the incidents of people committing suicide on the train tracks of the underground tube. The line There’s a reason that London puts barriers on the tube line is vital to this story, as this was the authorities’ response to these suicide cases. “Instead of getting better mental health services, all they did was put barriers in front of the rails. Did it really work though? I don’t think it does, because people still end up killing themselves,” he commented.
In the same livestream, Wilbur also shared that he noticed the public’s “disconnect from humanity.” People were more annoyed that they were going to be late to their destination, rather than the fact that someone felt that their only way out was to take their life. The tone of this song feels like a lament of how people have become numb to the human experience and what is going on around them.
Whose fault is it? The city? The authorities? The people?
All I know is that I’m grateful this track exists because it still is a timely reminder that we can do more to increase the accessibility (and quality) of mental health services.
And just… don’t be an asshole? Reflect? Be kind? You never know what the people around you may be going through.
I think this time I’m dying
I’m not melodramatic
I’m just pragmatic beyond any reasoning
Wilbur refers to Saline Solution as the track that still applies today (commenting on the other tracks, he said that those sentiments represented how he felt at the time — but no longer applies to him). The lyrics of this track are Wilbur’s thoughts on dealing with his hypochondria. Essentially, being a hypochondriac is defined as “having an unrealistic fear that they have a serious medical condition or fear that they’re at high risk of becoming ill.”
In the livestream, Wilbur shared that he’s had health anxiety his entire life: “Since I was a little kid, it’s a part of me. [There are] A lot of ways to cope, they work differently for different stages of my life.” (If you are interested to know more, Wilbur has also shared about this in an interview with heyitsjoe.)
Saline solution to all your problems. I’m not going to lie, I Googled “saline solution” because I wanted to confirm if I had a correct understanding of what it’s used for (totally not because I didn’t know what it was). Saline solution has multiple uses, but it is known for cleaning wounds, cleaning sinuses, and treating dehydration. Is this a metaphorical depiction of slapping on a plaster and accepting it, or taking something to solve it but you kind of have to keep on doing it? It feels more like the latter. Wilbur has always lived with his health anxiety, but he has found ways to cope with and work around it.
Since I Saw Vienna
The roads are my home as horizon’s my target
“[Since I Saw Vienna] is about travelling, and the feeling of being with someone but still feeling lonely,” Wilbur shared in the livestream.
When I listen to this track, it feels wistful and longing.
Longing for what exactly, I wasn’t entirely sure.
I’m not a man of substance and so I’ll pretend to be a wanderer. Wilbur shared about his tendency of moving from one place to the next: “I’m a big mover, I don’t normally stick with things very long.” We’ve always been told that we will enjoy ourselves the most in our 20’s, but I also feel like our 20’s involves a whole lot of exploring and figuring stuff out (e.g. how we can pay our bills, finding the right job, maintaining our income, our lifestyle, where do we want to settle down, are we even open to settling down?).
This track made me reflect on these past few years of me trying to figure out my academic path and career. In short, I have felt extremely lost. Though thankfully I now have a better idea of my potential, I am still working through the effects and feelings I had of suddenly being pulled out of a purpose (read: prior academic major) that now feels foreign to me.
“[Losing Face] is about being broken up with. I was told to wait for them, but they immediately got with someone else. That was my realisation that I had to move on as well,” Wilbur shared.
This track is a dedication to a relationship in Wilbur’s past that has left him understandably bitter (or salty, as the young’uns would say). Through his lyrics, he rants about the new person in his place, asking Is he better than me? Has he seen more to this life?
Oh, what could have been
If you didn’t go and fall in love
And ruin everything
This track is a very honest detailing of the typical elements of a sour split: the break-up itself, the feelings about said breakup, what the person now feels about their ex-lover, their reflection on “the new guy” (or “the replacement”), lamenting about the relationship that once was, and needing to accept that this is how it is now (that his ex-lover has moved on) but not wanting to. There is a lot of mixed feelings expressed in this track, and lines like As long as you’re happy, I don’t care shows that.
When we go through a breakup, we do ‘lose’ a part of us. If the relationship ended on somewhat civil/mutual terms, maybe the parties will end up being mutual friends. However, most relationships coming to an end do signify not only the end of the relationship — but for the time being, the friendship as well. And if the relationship had a less-than-pleasant ending?
Well… I’ve lost a piece of me in you, But you’ve lost all your past.
Your Sister Was Right
“I was a bad person, reckless with others’ hearts.”
The previous track was about an ex-lover betraying Wilbur’s trust, but Your Sister Was Right is about how he wasn’t exactly a stellar lover in another relationship: And I don’t deserve you, You deserve the world. The track started with Wilbur’s reflection on how his view on relationships (or the pursuit of one) has changed from before: I thought I couldn’t love anymore, Turns out I can’t, Not for the same reasons as before. This is very relatable, as we often change (e.g. either having more self-awareness, trying to piece back what was lost, completely reinventing ourselves, or becoming numb and afraid of commitment) after being in or leaving a relationship.
Through this track, Wilbur talks about how he treated his partner poorly: I ostracise the ones who love me back. He also affirms that the warnings given about him were right: I hate to say it but your sister was right, I’m nothing but a problem, leave you crying overnight.
The first verse tackles Wilbur’s viewpoint of how he felt (or how he acted) in relationships. The second verse is his reflection on how he felt unworthy of the person he was with. The third verse lists out the points that made him a bad partner, through the judgment of his ex-lover’s sister. Overall, Wilbur admits his past mistakes and he closes this chapter.
When I first listened to this album, the song that was initially stuck in my head was La Jolla. Wilbur shares that this track is about him wanting to leave the U.K. and wanting to travel to see the world. Relating back to Since I Saw Vienna and his habit of hopping from one city to another, he dreams of leaving to start over somewhere new.
You know it takes a lot to move me
So if you figure it out, tell me
These two lines sum up the whole “I’m a wanderer” vibe Wilbur has going on in this album. In a way, I viewed this as him going from one place to another to search for something that makes him feel passionate — something that makes him feel like he’s really living. However, the journey of self-discovery can oftentimes feel lonely:
You know I’ve tried hard to love me too
It always seems to fall in through
Maybe one day I’ll live in La Jolla. I viewed “La Jolla” as something we can substitute with any of our life goals that we may have (e.g. Maybe one day I’ll be able to have my own house / maybe one day I’ll be able to write for a living, maybe one day I’ll be able to meet you again). To me, La Jolla can be a place, something we would like to achieve, something we would like to obtain
— the ideal of where/what we hope to be one day (and no, this is not a product placement but One Day by Lovejoy is pretty great though!).
I’m Sorry Boris
In the livestream, Wilbur shared he wrote this a week before leaving London. And yes, it is the Boris that you are thinking of. In this track, Wilbur laments about the changes that has been made to the country he’s always known.
And I’m sorry, but Boris, I’m leaving
I’m not good for anyone here
In La Jolla, Wilbur sings it takes a lot to move me. In this track, he answers himself, singing I figured out what can move me, It’s trains and hugs, planes and sushi.
He has mixed feelings about leaving, seemingly having a love-hate relationship with London. Though the place makes him want to leave, he does not want to leave behind the people he cares about:
And even though I’m finished, I’m not quite done with it
No matter how far I run south, I’m always there
My lovers, my colleagues, my best friends and enemies
I don’t think I want to leave you
With Your City Gave Me Asthma, Wilbur bids goodbye to the thoughts, people, and events of his past. These tracks now belongs to his audience, rather than something he is attached to.
This was an ode to the person he once was.