The premise of the hit movie 9 to 5 is that three female secretaries plot together to get revenge on their spiteful boss by kidnapping him. The characters each represented a woman in the workforce during the 1980s, such as a woman being looked over for a promotion or the office’s dumb blonde (per IMDb). While the famed film and the song exposed gender issues in the workplace, it was done in such a satirical way so the message could reach everyone. The movie was actually based on the organization, 9 to 5, which was founded in 1973 (per 9 to 5). Their goal was to bring about fair pay and equal treatment for women in the workplace.
The song itself is an upbeat tune written by Dolly Parton while she was also filming the movie. The songstress wrote from the heart with lyrics that rang true to almost every woman in the workforce, with lines like, “They just use your mind and they never give you credit / It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it” (per AZLyrics). Even though the song did not start a rebellion, it did help to propel forward a message that was reignited during the Me Too movement. According to the Center for American Progress, the message still stands that, 40 years later, women are still earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
What an odd instrument
In 2009, Parton revealed during a 60 Minutes interview (via YouTube) that she had the most unlikely of inspirations for her hit song: Her long, acrylic nails. The songwriter spoke to Morley Safer about how she would often rub her nails together to create a typewriter’s sound. The rhythm helped her come up with the song’s melody, and it didn’t hurt that the main characters were secretaries either! Moviegoers may not know that she actually used her nails for a percussion sound when she recorded the track. The song was the focal point of her album, 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs, which was released in 1980, and according to Cheat Sheet, Parton has had a total of 25 number one hits, including this little diddy. The success of 9 to 5 earned Parton four Grammy Award nominations. She won Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance (per Outsider).
She was a smart cookie
The Tennessee native’s song still holds a place in fans’ hearts, since many feel she is a national treasure. Many have even claimed that “9 to 5” is one of the most socially-impactful songs ever. The platinum-selling single helped start a television show that ran for six seasons and a Broadway play with music and lyrics written by the star. The Hollywood movie earned more than $100 million worldwide and even beat out The Empire Strikes Back, but it was said that the theme song made ten times more (via Mental Floss).
Even though Parton’s character was modeled on her bubbly personality, the country girl is a long way from the dumb blonde she portrayed. She only agreed to shoot the film if she could write the theme song (per Biography). Thank goodness the production company agreed to her demand since it is safe to say the film and her career would not have been the same without it.
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