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Dolly Parton’s Super Bowl ad rewrites “9 to 5” as a side-hustle anthem

photo of Dolly Parton at movie premiere for Dumplin'
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
Dolly Parton poses at a premiere for the movie Dumplin’ in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2018.
  • Sarah Todd
By Sarah Todd

Senior reporter, Quartz and Quartz at Work

Published Last updated

Dolly Parton’s hit song “9 to 5” is a rousing critique of the American workplace. Released in 1980 as the theme song for the film 9 to 5, co-starring Parton, the lyrics tell the story of an ambitious, hard-working woman with a job that barely pays the bills and a boss who takes her ideas without giving her credit. It’s a song about keeping your spirits up while railing at a system that’s rigged against you. “It’s a rich man’s game / No matter what they call it,” Parton concludes, “And you spend your life / Putting money in his wallet.”

Parton’s latest version of “9 to 5” puts a decidedly sunnier spin on the world of work. In a new Super Bowl ad for website-building company Squarespace, Parton reimagines “9 to 5” as “5 to 9,” an ode to the side hustles many people work after regular business hours. (It’s unclear whether that’s 5pm to 9pm or 9am, but either way, we’re talking a really long workday.)

The commercial features a woman at a desk job who opens her laptop when the clock strikes 5pm to work on her side gig as a fitness instructor. Meanwhile, Parton sings:

Working 9 to 5
You’ve got passion and a vision
‘Cause it’s hustling time,
Whole new way to make a living
Gonna change your life
Do something that gives it meaning
With a website that is worthy of your dreaming

No disrespect to Parton, who is an immensely talented artist and international treasure, but this cheerful take on what it’s like to work a day job, then work another job after that is … not true to a lot of people’s experience. Holding down side hustles is exhausting, and many people do it less out of a can-do entrepreneurial spirit and more out of financial necessity. What’s more, working extra-long days—whatever one’s reason for doing so—ups our chances of experiencing physical and mental problems ranging from stress and anxiety to sleep and substance-abuse issues.

There’s no possible way to improve upon the genius of “9 to 5,” but we thought we’d take a stab at reimagining “5 to 9” from a darker (and perhaps more realistic) perspective on working side hustles. We hope you’ll sing along to “5 to 9: The Worker’s Lament.”

Tumble outta bed
And stumble to my laptop
Salary’s too low
Can’t make my bills stop
My desk is just an empty Amazon box
Worried ‘bout layoffs
Industry’s unstable
Need a side hustle
To keep food on the table
That’s why I work 9 to 5, then 5 to 9
Workin’ 5 to 9
And then 5 to 9 am too
I mean who needs sleep
When a corporation needs you
We’ve all got second shifts
Maybe three if you’re a woman
Parenting is unpaid work
So’s doing laundry and the cooking!
5 to 9, driving Lyfts and Ubers
You might think that’s it
But I also online tutor
Want to take a break
But my student debt won’t let me
I swear sometimes the wealth gap’s out to get me!
Workin’ 5 to 9
And then 5 to 9 am too
Yes I’ve put “burn out
On my list of to-dos
I’m less a person now
Than a function of my labor
My mental health is
Going down the drainer!
[song fadeout]

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