In a Songfacts interview with Better Than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin
, who wrote this song, he explained: "'Desperately Wanting' is a song where someone is looking back on their childhood. Specifically that song is about when I used to camp out with my friends in the summer down in the South, and you'd stay up all night causing havoc, throwing rocks at passing cars, knocking over mailboxes and vandalizing, as red-blooded men are wont to do. And literally, you're running all through the neighborhood and through the yards, and there's the dew on the grass. It was about those nights spent with a friend running around, running through the wet grass.
And then it's a story of two people who took divergent paths in life. One person made a lot of bad decisions and ended up having some mental issues. And then just how you lose touch with people. And how when you're young and you're running around all night, and life hasn't had its way with you, the playing field is equal and it's flat. And then life takes everybody on their own journeys.
But there's a time where all your potential is untapped and the world hasn't had its way with you. That's an amazing time of promise, and that's what 'Desperately Wanting' is about."