Dolly Parton Shares How She Managed to Write the Song ‘9 To 5’ on Her Fingernails

When you’re as musically inclined as country singer legend Dolly Parton, you can come up with your next song anywhere—even on a body part!

If you’re a Dolly Parton fan, you know that if she’s famous for anything besides her music, it’s her unique fashion sense: her bold makeup, voluminous blonde hair, and of course those long, acrylic nails are recognizable anywhere.

She was the same fashionista she is now back in the 1980s, when she starred alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the popular comedy 9-5. Not only was she a main character, but something a lot of people may not know is that she also wrote the theme song for the flick. And the inspiration for that song? It came directly from those fingernails.

Dolly discovered that by clacking her nails together in a rhythmic motion, it created a typewriter sound that could serve as the inspiration for coming up with songs. In fact, sometimes she discovered that she could even play actual songs on her nails.

That’s what happened when she came up with the song “9 To 5,” which is the theme song in the movie. Without a guitar or any other musical instrument around when she was developing the beat of the song, she had to get creative. And creative she got.

“After we recorded the song, I brought all the girls down that was on the show and I played my nails,” Dolly said.

Dolly’s nails played such a huge part in coming up with the song in the movie that the record’s credits actually read “Nails by Dolly.” Gee, we hope they got paid some commission for their contribution!

This isn’t the only time Dolly has used her nails to help create music. They also “work great as picks, I’ve never had a problem with [the right hand] — [the left fingers] are the ones where I have a problem,” she explained to Vanity Fair.

Who knew a manicure could be so inspiring? Dolly sure got her money’s worth on those!

To hear Dolly talk about (and play) her nails and how they became the inspiration for writing the song “9 To 5,” check out this interview she did with Willie Geist.

Are you a fan of the movie 9 To 5? Did you know Dolly came up with the theme song—and it was inspired by her fingernail strumming? Have you ever seen a musician use a body part to come up with musical inspiration like this before?