Dolly Parton Writes Songs with Her Nails - Ooh, Interesting! Fascinating Facts

November 01, 2019

Dolly Parton is a singer-songwriter who wrote some of the most famous and loved songs of the 20th Century. From Jolene to Islands in the Stream to 9 to 5, she has written hit after hit! In fact is is 9 to 5 that is (partly) the focus of this blog.

Back in 2009, Dolly admitted that she actually wrote 9 to 5 for the film of the same name using her nails as inspiration. Famed for sporting long, acrylic nails, Dolly discovered that when she rubbed both hands together, the sound was somewhat similar to somebody typing at a typewriter, which is essentially what the characters in the movie would be doing as it was all about office work. Amazingly she even ‘played’ her nails on the track as a piece of percussion!

Newspapers picked up on the story but ultimately everybody moved on until 2016 when Dolly sat down with ITV reporter Alison Hammond to talk about her new album. Incredibly she revealed that not only did she write 9 to 5 using her nails but that it is actually a regular occurrence for the country star; she wrote roughly half of Pure & Simple, her 45th solo studio album(!), using her nails.

“If you're out and about and you haven't got your guitar and inspiration comes to you, what do you do?" asked the interviewer, no doubt expecting something along the lines of ‘oh I write it down in a book’ or ‘I rush home to figure out the tune on a piano or guitar before I forget it’. But no, Dolly’s answer was, “Well I just get on these fingernails. I wrote several of the songs on this album with them. You have to have acrylic nails...”

Three years later, the duo met up for another chat and you can see the musical results here with Dolly accurately guessing how each of her most famous songs sounds when played on nails. Not bad!



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By Henry Fosdike