It’s a bad day for everyone who only discovered “Dawson’s Creek” in recent years and had gotten married to the idea that Jann Arden’s “Run Like Mad” was the theme song for the 1998-2003 teen television series. For all of the show’s other fans, apart from that tiny, tiny sliver, it’s a good day, as Paula Cole has been restored to the opening credits and the world set aright.
Announced Netflix in a Friday morning tweet (speaking in the first person as a company): “Dawson’s Creek fans, I’m thrilled to announce that — at long last — you will hear Paula Cole’s iconic song ‘I Don’t Want to Wait’ when you watch the opening credits!”
But it’s not the original recording of the song, although the expectation is that no one will notice the difference. The artist herself weighed in Friday afternoon, explaining that the version now heard is a remake that circumvents not having rights to the original master recording, a la Taylor Swift-versus-Big Machine.
“It’s true,” Cole wrote. “I re-recorded “I Don’t Want To Wait”, and they are using the master. All artists should be compensated for their intellectual work.” She added thank-you shout-outs to Sony TV and Netflix, “and most of all the fans who made this happen. That’s the power of patience & persistence. Grateful.”
It’s true. I re-recorded “I Don’t Want To Wait”, and they are using the master. All artists should be compensated for their intellectual work. Thank you @SonyTV @netflix and most of all the fans who made this happen. That’s the power of patience & persistence. Grateful. https://t.co/p8eUJ11r54
— Paula Cole (@paulacolemusic) September 3, 2021
The reasons for Cole having been replaced by Arden for all these years on DVD and other subsequent reproductions of the series were laid out in a February New York Times article titled “Why Don’t Some TV Shows Sound the Way They Used To?” Cole’s theme song slipping into a twilight zone, to the anger and bewilderment of “Creek” fans, was cited as the most prominent example of a studio being unable to license a recording familiar from TV for streaming use. As the Times explained it, in a pre-DVD era, producers didn’t think much about claiming all rights when licensing music, figuring getting major artists “on the cheap” beat negotiating and laying out bigger cash for further ancillary uses.
“People really care and are really upset about it,” Cole told the Times in April. “They tag me in every post — so much tagging on the socials, fans tagging Netflix and Sony. It’s prolific.”
The return of “I Don’t Wait to Wait” to the opening credits is not a surprise. Cole revealed in that Times article in the spring that she’d recorded a new version and that Sony had successfully negotiated with her publishing company to use it anew for the series on streaming.
Left out of the loop: the labels that released her original version, the long-defunct ’90s indie label Imago and its then-distributor, Warner Bros. Records, who won’t profit from a re-recorded master.