The old saying goes that “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop,” but in Dolly Parton’s case, idle hands sometimes result in a massive hit.
In the singer’s new book, Dolly Parton, Storyteller: My Life in Lyrics, she remembers how she wrote her 1980 hit “9 to 5,” while on the set of the 1979 movie of the same title. The film starred Dolly alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and it remains one of the singer’s best-loved acting appearances to this day.
According to a preview from the new book in People, Dolly says that she got just a little bit bored backstage while she was waiting for her character’s scene to be filmed.
“The thing I hate about the movies is all the waiting-around time,” she writes. “I realized on the set of 9 to 5 in 1979 that I had to do something besides just sitting there. I couldn’t play my guitar — I didn’t want to disrupt everything on the set by making music.”
Instead, Dolly found another way to make music.
“I would just click my nails making them sound like a typewriter. Then I used that sound as my music. I started writing ‘9 to 5’ on the set of the movie that way,” she continues. “I’d go back to my hotel every night and put down what I had written that day, playing my guitar and getting it on tape. Over a long period of time, I wrote the song on my nails.”
Dolly Parton, Storyteller: My Life in Lyrics will be out on November 17.
By Carena Liptak
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