Horrifying news for fans of Jann Arden’s “Run Like Mad” today, as Netflix reports that the iconic Dawson’s Creek theme tune has now been usurped by—well, by a more iconic Dawson’s Creek theme tune, admittedly. Which is to say that Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want To Wait,” the soundtrack to a million meditations on the Holy Trinity of Dawson, Joey, and Pacey, has now been restored to its place at the start of various syndicated broadcasts of the ’90s teen soap.
This has been an extremely long road for “I Don’t Want To Wait,” which has been absent from every “home video” versions of the series since the release of its first two seasons on VHS way back when, including every appearance it’s made on streaming. Instead, the series has run with Arden’s “Run Like Mad,” which was written specifically for the show, in between the period when it was originally going to air with Alanis Morissette’s “One Hand In My Pocket,” and before Kevin Williamson and the then-WB decided to pivot to Cole’s nostalgia-heavy ballad. The simple reason for the shift was, y’know, money: Sony Pictures Entertainment would have had to pay Cole for her song, while Arden’s was available for basically free.
Cole, who’s a vocal advocate for musicians actually getting to profit off of the music they create, has actually talked quite a bit about this over the years, including a Huffington Post essay she wrote in 2018 that noted that a) she definitely commiserates with James Van Der Beek for feeling like his career has been completely overshadowed by Dawson’s Creek, and b) she’s been stuck in a deal with Warner Bros. for years that she describes as both draconian and “labyrinthine,” related to the recording of her breakout sophomore album The Fire, and which has impacted her ability to profit from her work.
All of which explains why the version of “I Don’t Want To Wait” now gracing the streaming Dawson’s is not the version that ran with the original broadcasts; Cole re-recorded the song a few years back in order to own the rights to its master recordings, and that’s the version that’s now been licensed. She also, in an Independent interview from a few months back, noted that any and all of this is only happening because of fan support; “One of my babies just happened to be used for this TV show,” she said in the interview. “And people are very attached to it. And I’m so happy that the fans got what they wanted and that people will learn about my song and hopefully more of my music again. I just appreciate the opportunity very, very much.”