In a 2016 Songfacts interview with Paula Cole
, she talked about the meaning behind "I Don't Want To Wait." Said Cole: "It's a very personal song that's looking at my grandparents, specifically my grandfather, Everett, who fought in World War II, his unhappy marriage to my grandmother - the firecracker, Helen - their influence on my father and then that influence on me.
When you grow up with your grandparents you can really see the generations and the energy of the parenting. I was looking at it and thinking, 'I don't want to make some of these mistakes. I really hope I don't.' Wanting to take that Atlas globe off of my shoulders that felt like each female generation was passing, like you have to just stay married, you can't be happy, you can't have a career. I just wanted to shrug it off and I wanted happiness for my life, my generation.
Of course, I go about making all kinds of different mistakes in reaction to that and ironically I come back to my hometown and full circle of living by my parents now, with my daughter. So, that song follows me. It's a song from my life. I think about my family in it, I think about generations, the way they've informed my dad and me, but really I wrote it for my grandfather and I feel like his spirit is still in that song. The song has wings - the spirit is in that song."