“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton

It can be said that Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” speaks to the frustrations – and hopes – of your average working-class person. Anyone who is or has been in such a predicament would likely attest to the fact that grinding for the man often feels like a futile effort, i.e. one in which there’s minimal gratification. That is the sentiment that Dolly is putting forth throughout mostly on this track, that for instance even though dedicating her entire day to the job, she’s underpaid. 

Moreover, it’s such that her contributions are ultimately to the benefit of her employer and not herself. And when you combine those two factors, i.e. low pay alongside lack of upward mobility, it is in fact “enough to drive you crazy if you let it”.

Hold on to your Dreams

But what the singer and others use to mitigate this depression is by holding on to their ‘dreams’ of a better day and the hope that such will indeed come to pass. Or phrased otherwise, despite feeling stuck in the here and now, they are confident that their current condition isn’t permanent. And it would seem, judging by the conclusion of the second verse, that Miss Parton is encouraging listeners who may be in such a predicament to think likewise.

Whereas such a notion is also reiterated in the chorus, that is not the thesis sentiment of “9 to 5”. More to the point is the vocalist venting, shall we say about the nature of capitalism or more specifically worker exploitation. Or interpreted in another way, she is able to perceive that the true beneficiaries of the labor of workers like herself are not the employees – who suffer the most – but rather the employers. And since her ilk do work so hard “putting money in his wallet”, the vocalist is understandably upset about the grand scheme of things.

Lyrics of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5"

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is a permanent A list musician, particularly in the United States. Her discography dates back to the late 1960s. However, it has been noted that it was actually upon the commencement of her acting career that she really became a household name. 

Her first acting gig was starring in a successful movie titled 9 to 5 which this track, which was released through RCA Nashville on 10 November 1980, served as the theme song to. To note, the song is more famous than the movie itself.

Achievements of “9 to 5”

“9 to 5” was a very successful track in that it was nominated for a plethora of accolades. For example, it was nominated for the Best Original Song at the 1981 Academy Awards. It also took home four BMI Awards in 1981 in addition to a couple of Grammys in 1982. In that latter regard, it bested the following categories:

  • Best Country Vocal Performance, Female 
  • Best Country Song.

Additionally, “9 to 5” topped the Hot 100 and two other Billboard US listings (Adult Contemporary and Hot Country Songs). And of significance is the fact that at the time, a female singer topping both the Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs list was a rare feat. Parton became only the second one to do so.

This track has also gone multi-platinum in a handful of countries, including double-platinum in the US and UK. 

A remade version of “9 to 5” was utilized by web hosting company Squarespace during the 2021 Super Bowl, i.e. the most-watched television event in the United States. And the following year Dolly reworked it again, that time around in conjunction with Kelly Clarkson, to be featured on a documentary called Still Working 9 to 5, in commemoration of the aforementioned film.

More Facts about “9 to 5”

It has been noted that earlier in 1980, Sheena Easton also dropped a track titled “9 to 5”, specifically in her homeland of the UK. But when said tune was eventually issued in the United States in 1981, it was re-titled to “Morning Train (Nine to Five)”.

Dolly Parton insisted on writing the theme song to the 9 to 5 film, which she was enlisted to appear in by one of the other co-stars, Jane Fonda. 

The tune itself originated from Parton noting similarities between how her acrylic nails sounded when rubbed together and the sound of a typewriter. And subsequently an actual typewriter was used to create a sound effect within the track itself.

To note, the success of the 9 to 5 movie overall resulted in a 1980s’ TV series named after it (actually starring Rachel Dennison, i.e. Dolly Parton’s little sister). The series ran for over 80 episodes. The movie also inspired a Broadway musical which came out in 2009.

Dolly Parton is the sole writer of “9 to 5” (the song). Its producer is Greg Perry.

9 to 5

Usage in other Media

Other than being one of the soundtracks in Parton’s maiden movie role, “9 to 5”, the track is also associated with many other TV shows and movies.

  • Crime-drama TV series, “Bones”, Season 3 Episode 14. The episode was titled “The Wannabe in the Weeds”.
  • Zombie-comedy movie, “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”.
  • Science fiction TV series “The Orville”. Used in both seasons 2 and 3. The episodes the track appeared on are the 12th and 8th respectively.
  • Superhero movie, “Deadpool 2”
  • Coming-of-age movie, “Dumplin’”
  • American singing competition, “The Masked Singer” (Episode 3 of Season 2). Flower performed the song and was one of the winners in this round.
  • TV series, “Mixed-ish” (Season 1, Episode 16). The episode was named “She Works Hard for the Money”.
  • Comedy TV series, “The Goldbergs” (Season 8, Episode 13). “Mr. Ships Ahoy” is the episode’s title.
  • Dutch reality competition, “Drag Race Holland”. (Season 1, Episode 6). In this episode, “9 to 5” was lip-synced by ChelseaBoy and Janey Jacké, resulting in ChelseaBoy being eliminated.
  • Reality competition, “Secret Celebrity RuPaul’s Drag Race”. (Season 2, Episode 3). Poppy Love delivered a lip-sync performance to the song.

Chart Performance

CountryPosition
United States#1
Australia#9
Austria#5
Belgium#5
Canada#1
Netherlands#10
New Zealand#9
South Africa#9
Sweden#6

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