9 to 5

Album: Nine to Five Soundtrack (1980)
Charted: 47 1
  • Parton wrote this for the 1980 film of the same name. The film (which was Parton's acting debut) starred Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Parton, and Dabney Coleman and dealt with life in an American office, where the workday was 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. She wrote the song while the movie was filming.

    In a 2009 interview with 60 Minutes, Parton talked about the unlikely inspiration for this song: her fingernails. She had very long, acrylic nails, and discovered that when she rubbed them together she could create a rhythm that sounded like a typewriter, and since the movie was about secretaries, she was able to use that sound to compose the song on the set. She even played her fingernails as part of the percussion sound when she recorded the track.
  • Both the film and the song "9 to 5" exposed gender inequity in the workplace. It was done for laughs, which was the only way it could reach a mass audience, but still made a strong statement, with three female leads taking on their stereotypically disparaging boss.

    The song has a jaunty tone that fits the movie, but the lyrics ring true for many women:

    They just use your mind and they never give you credit
    It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it


    Parton was more than qualified to write these lines, having conquered the male-dominated world of country music with extraordinary tact and ambition.

    "9 to 5" didn't start any kind of movement, but did push the issue forward. When the #metoo uprising took shape, it became a touchstone to measure progress - women were still earning considerably less than men and dealing with an often criminal level of disrespect. In 2018, punk rock forebears Alice Bag, Kathleen Hanna and Allison Wolfe teamed up to re-create scenes from the movie for the video to "77," a song that refers to women earning only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
  • This was a huge crossover hit for Parton, who expanded her audience to the world of mainstream pop. Years later, many country music artists, especially female singers like Faith Hill and Shania Twain, followed Parton's lead and made headway on the pop charts.
  • At different points in the song, you can hear the sounds of some tapping followed by a bell. This was the sound of a typewriter, which was the tool of the trade for secretaries in 1980. The bell told the typist that she was nearing the end of the page and needed to return the carriage to the left and start a new line. Typewriters were eventually replaced with word processors and computers, making these sounds obsolete.
  • Sheena Easton's #1 hit "Morning Train (Nine To Five)" was released as "9 to 5" outside of America. In the States, the title was changed to avoid confusion with Parton's song.
  • This song won the 1981 Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance, Female; it also received a Grammy nomination for Best Album Of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or Television Special and received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. It also won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
  • This song got the Andy Samberg treatment in at 2010 episode of Saturday Night Live where in a digital short, they turned the song into "Stumblin'." The bit featured Samberg and Paul Rudd stumbling all over Manhattan to a reworked version of this song. Paul McCartney, who was the musical guest on the show, appears in the short doing a very random, tiny harmonica solo.
  • The film 9 to 5 was turned into TV series that ran five seasons from 1982-1988. The song was used as the theme, initially with Phoebe Snow singing it, then replaced with Parton's version later on. The cast changed a lot throughout the run, with Jeffrey Tambor, Rita Moreno, Sally Struthers and Valerie Curtin among the participants.

    In 2009, the franchise was revived with a Broadway musical that opened and closed with ensemble renditions of the song. This production starred Allison Janney and Megan Hilty.
  • Alison Krauss recorded this in 2003 for the tribute album Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton. That same year, Krauss and Parton sang it together for Lifetime's fourth annual Women Rock concert.
  • When Parton received the MusiCares Person Of The Year award at the 2019 Grammys, she performed this song to close out her set, joined on stage by Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, Linda Perry (no relation) Miley Cyrus and Maren Morris.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 5

  • Linda from Shelton, WaThe first line of melody in the song is identical to that of an old-time fiddle tune called "Me and my fiddle". I wonder if Dolly remembered that tune and built a song around it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 21st, 1980 "9 to 5" reached No. 1 for one week; then "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt moved into the top spot for two weeks. But dolly reclaimed #1 for one more week!!!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThis song was nominated for Best Song at the 1980 Academy Awards {Lost to "Fame" from the movie of the same name}!!!
  • Rob from Fredericton, NbJust a great classic song with a qwirky way about it. Definitely puts a smile on everyone's face when it plays. You can't help but laugh cause everyone has heard it one time in their life.
  • Nunzio from Darwin, AustraliaThere was a porn version of 9 to 5 called 8 to 4 &
    they ripped this off at the start of it during the opening credits.
see more comments

Bob DaisleySongwriter Interviews

Bob was the bass player and lyricist for the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums. Here's how he wrote songs like "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley" with Ozzy and Randy Rhoads.

Emmylou HarrisSongwriter Interviews

She thinks of herself as a "song interpreter," but back in the '80s another country star convinced Emmylou to take a crack at songwriting.

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.

Jethro TullFact or Fiction

Stage urinals, flute devices, and the real Aqualung in this Fact or Fiction.

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")Songwriter Interviews

Phil was a songwriter, producer and voice behind many Philadelphia soul classics. When disco hit, he got an interesting project: The Village People.

Bryan AdamsSongwriter Interviews

What's the deal with "Summer of '69"? Bryan explains what the song is really about, and shares more of his songwriting insights.