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Your City Gave Me Asthma: A World-Changing Album

When you first hear the name of the album, you might think it’s the anthem for an anti-pollution group. However, it’s a debut album by Singer-Song Writer Wilbur Soot (real name Will Gold). The album conveys multiple heavy emotions, the weight of millions etched into the lines sung along with a lone guitar, and the writer’s desperation to escape from the city of London and leave behind its imprints. This is it: an album that has impacted millions worldwide, people of all ages.

The first reason this album was so influential is that it touches upon loneliness, which is one of the most prominent problems globally, and has been for a long while and will continue to be so. The album was especially profound since it was introduced in 2020, right at the peak of the pandemic, when people felt lonely and deprived of social contact. Wilbur sings about being abandoned by loved ones, about his inability to love, and how he’s isolating himself;

“I thought I couldn't love anymore Turns out I can't, but not for the same reasons as before”

Jubilee Line”, with 77 million streams, highlights the feeling of loneliness even within a crowd. It tells the story of how apathetic people are to others around them, how nothing but their own lives matter and how blind they are to pain and all that’s wrong. The song talks about the railways in London and people taking their lives on the tracks, saying repeatedly

“There's a reason London puts barriers on the tube line

There's a reason They fail.”

The second main theme in the album is health, both mental and physical and hence touches many people who struggle. The song “Saline Solution” tells the story of someone whose mind is a wreckage filled with health anxiety and feelings of darkness and despair, someone who thinks he’s lost his mind, someone who’s exhausted from cities and people and life.

He sings of self-victimization, of sabotaging himself and deliberately following a ruinous path of self-destruction;

“I think I've made my choice I'm a deceased playing victim Slip the fate slip the victory I think I've made my choice Sink secluded in hatred Void the plans friends are making”

Finally, Wilbur relays the feeling of not belonging anywhere, of being unable to stay in one place for too long and leaving people behind as he runs from one city to another. In “Since I Saw Vienna” he talks about this urge to leave, to keep traveling, and his inability to settle down. He talks about how little material things mean to him but how he still keeps small mementos from friends as reminders.

“I'll pick up my hiking boots when I am ready And I'll put down my roots when I'm dead”

In “La Jolla” he speaks of future hopes of having someone close, of living in one place and finally settling, but he still feels like he has to go;

“I could go away I could pack my things and be gone before you wake”

As a whole, this album highlights emotions that are so human and so open that it strikes a chord with many. Thousands of stories have been written about it, as thousands of drawings with bright reds and drowning grays. Although the initial premise was that living in London gave him asthma, London just symbolizes all the big, dirty, over-crowded, glum, and gloomy cities in the world. That’s why the lyrics resonate globally, and that’s why Wilbur has claimed that the lyrics don’t belong to him anymore but to the listeners: “In terms of who owns it in the heart, it’s you guys. I don't own the feelings in that album anymore.”

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