The Bizarre Origin Of The 'Dawson's Creek' Theme
Much has been made of the fact that ever since the quintessential '90s American teen drama (sorry, My So-Called Life) hit streaming, "I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole ...
... the song that will, for better or worse, always conjure images of perfect teens frolicking on a North Carolina beach -- hasn't accompanied it.
But it was never meant to. The song that has been bewildering millennials in its place, Jann Arden's "Run Like Mad," wasn't either, but it's closer. The first season's opening credits sequence was actually filmed and edited with Alanis Morissette's "Hand in My Pocket" in mind, and once you see it, it's obvious.
The problem was that they kinda sorta never got around to getting the rights until it was too late. They didn't anticipate that Morissette would say no, so in a panic, they commissioned a bunch of musicians to draw up some theme songs, one of whom was Arden, whose song "Good Mother" was used in the pilot. She slapped together "Run Like Mad," and it got so close to winning the bid that the show's music supervisor flew to Canada, where she lived, to get a professional recording of the song.
Meanwhile, the WB had licensed a whole bunch of songs to use in promos for the show, one of which was "I Don't Want to Wait." At the zero hour, they suggested using the Paula Cole song as the theme, but then they bungled the rights negotiations. They hadn't anticipated that television would ever head in a direction that wasn't "praying for reruns if you happened to be busy that night," so if they wanted Cole's song for boxed sets and streaming, they'd have to pay her again, and she'd gotten expensive. Arden wasn't, which is why everyone who decided to indulge in some post-cord-cutting nostalgia got a WTF? moment when those highly anticipated "do-do dooo do-doos" never arrived.
Fun fact: They also failed to secure the rights in many international markets, which means a lot of people are living in an alternate universe where "Run Like Mad" has always been the theme song of Dawson's Creek.