Dolly Parton, Songteller | The story behind Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and why she credits her nails

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Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin at the film premiere of 9 to 5 in New York on 5 December 1980. (Photo: Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin at the film premiere of 9 to 5 in New York on 5 December 1980. (Photo: Tom Wargacki/WireImage)

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a landmark celebration of the remarkable life and career of a country music and pop culture legend. As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton's personal and business archives. Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 175 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics. The below extract is reprinted from Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020.


I remember when I first started doing TV [in Knoxville], I was a little scared of the camera. One cameraman said, “Just follow those two red lights on the camera with your eyes and pretend that they are the eyes of somebody you know. Pretend you’re singing to a friend.” So I kind of became friends with the camera. Because of all my TV experience, I was more comfortable with cameras than most people.

But the movies are a whole different world. As far as lighting and standing on your marks are concerned, there’s a whole lot of stuff to learn. And you’re not allowed to look at the camera, so I had to unlearn some things. 

Lily and Jane were very helpful. Jane is the one who got me in the movie. She was thinking, “Dolly will get us the South.” I told her later as a joke, “Well, I might get you some North and East and West, too,” because I had a lot of fans.

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