Paula Cole wrote, recorded and produced “I Don’t Want to Wait” at her spinet piano in her apartment in New York City during mid-1996. Described by Cole as “a very personal song” she wrote the song when she realized that her grandfather was near the end of his life.
The song is about him and his wife, and specifically the relationship between their life and Cole’s who realized “I don’t want to make some of these mistakes. I really hope I don’t” Cole has described the central question of the chorus as “Do you say yes to life? Do you embrace the things that give you joy? Or do you cower back in fear or by culture’s machinations keeping you small?”
“I Don’t Want to Wait” is in common time with a moderate beat rate of 87 beats per minute. It is written in the key of F-sharp major. Cole’s vocal range spans from the note of F♯3 to the note of D♯5.
Cole composed “I Don’t Want to Wait” in the key of F-sharp major. However, when the songbook for the album was prepared, the song was eventually notated in G major. According to Cole, “most sales […] are to beginners and intermediate musicians”, so the publishers opted against the original key.
Cole wrote the song in mid-1996 and released it as second single from her second studio album, This Fire(1996), on October 14, 1997. The single release was successful, reaching No. 11 in the United States and No. 5 in Canada. VH1 ranked “I Don’t Want to Wait” as one of the 100 Greatest Songs of the ’90s at No. 81. The song later served as the opening theme for American teen drama television series Dawson’s Creek. Wiki