Jesse Colin Young wrote this song about his battle with Lyme disease, which in many cases causes fatigue and joint pain, but can be debilitating. It's caused by tick bites and can be very hard to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other conditions.
Young isn't sure when he was bitten, but he spent a lot of time in nature starting in 1967 when, as a member of The Youngbloods, he moved to house in the woods of Marin County, California where he enjoyed hikes and motorcycle rides to the shore. He called this home "Ridgetop," and wrote a song about it
. The house was burned down by a wildfire in 1995; he and his wife moved to Hawaii, which is when he got sick. In addition of pain and fatigue, he suffered from mental and emotional problems, including panic attacks. Doctors didn't know what was wrong with him, so they put him on anti-depressants.
It wasn't until years later that Young was diagnosed: his wife's cousin worked for the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, and gave her a brochure. When Jesse read it, it was a revelation - he finally knew the cause of his ills.
Young was treated with antibiotics and gradually regained his health. Hearing from others who struggled with the disease motivated him to write "Lyme Life."