Lyme Life

Album: Dreamers (2015)
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Songfacts®:

  • 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."
  • Young posted an acoustic version of this song online in 2015. A full version was included on his 2019 album Dreamers. "Lyme disease took me out for eight or nine years, and then when I started to get better my son was graduating music school," he said in a Songfacts interview. "I went to his senior recital and I heard these young people play and I said, 'I'm being called again. These things need to be talked about.'"
  • Lyme disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first noticed in the '70s. It's very common in Connecticut and surrounding areas, so doctors usually diagnose it. In California, it was not so common and much harder to get a diagnosis. In 2014, Avril Lavigne contracted Lyme, which caused her years of anguish. Her song "Head Above Water" is about her struggle.

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