On This Date: Dolly Parton Releases ‘9 to 5 And Odd Jobs’ After She Wrote The Title Track With Her Fingernails
On this date in 1980, Dolly Parton gave working girls everywhere an anthem.
She released her concept album, 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs, which was all about working women and their struggles in corporate America, largely inspired by the title track she wrote for the iconic film, 9 to 5.
Of course, Dolly starred in the movie alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
The record went #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country albums chart, but there’s actually a great story about how Dolly initially wrote the title track, 9 to 5.
Apparently, because she was on a movie set, she couldn’t just sit out there and strum her guitar and write a song the way every person has literally ever written a song.
And because writing the theme song was one of her conditions for agreeing to do the movie in the first place, she was still working on it while they started filming and had to do it quietly so the mics wouldn’t pick it up in the background while she was actually on set.
Kind of weird to ask Dolly Parton to write the title track to your movie and not even let her have a guitar on set, but Dolly being the pioneer woman that she is, had another solution.
According to American Songwriter, she used her acrylic nails to strum instead:
“I did it on my fingernails! It sounded like typewriter, and I didn’t have my guitar, cuz I didn’t wanna get too scattered cuz we were trying to stay in the mood and they were doin’ lights and all of that.
So, I would just look around and I would just look around and I would just get ideas watching whatever was going on on the set.
It was about women in the workplace, so I would just kinda do my ‘I tumble out of bed and I stumble to the kitchen, working 9 to 5’, and I would just kinda play my fingers.”
Then, when she got to her hotel after filming in the evenings, she’d pull out her guitar and actually write everything down:
“And I would go back to the hotel at night and write down the words, or get my guitar and start singin’ it.
But that’s kinda how that all worked and I played my nails on the real record just for fun, cuz all the girls got a kick out of me singin’ it to them, going around, even Jane and Lilly to this day, every time they see me, they start [playing their nails].
But you gotta have acrylic nails, though, which I don’t think either of them do. So they don’t play it as good as I do.”
The best part of all, though, is that she got credit for playing her fingernails in the liner notes on the record:
“It says ‘nails by Dolly’ on the album.”
Classic… as if you needed another reason to love her: