9 To 5 Song Analysis Essays

For this lecture we were obliged to write a paper about a song which is related to the theme of the course which is Gender, Race and Social Justice in Anglo-American Popular Music and we also had to choose a song which has impressed us in a very special way. There were a lot of artists which came into my mind like for example: Eminem, 50cent, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Queen, Madonna, Lady Gaga and a lot more. Nonetheless it is quite hard for us Germans to analyze a song of them, not knowing specific political background moreover not being sure if they mean it seriously or if they are just being sarcastic, like it is very common in Eminem’s texts.

For my analysis I have chosen the song Dear Mister President by Pink which is a direct criticism of President George W. Bush. The first time I heard it, I was really impressed by it because the song is very critical and provoking, but the music is in a slow way and creates a very reflective and melancholic atmosphere which makes it a very touching song for me. The music of the song is, asjust mentioned, very slow,just going along with the text, so you really have to listen to the words and are not distracted by it. This song was one of the most important songs on her album called I’m not dead and it is an open letter to the former President of the United States George W. Bush. It was written on Martin Luther King Day in 2005, but released for the first time in 2007. An interesting fact is that this song has won the Amadeus Austrian Music Award as the best international single of the year.

Another interesting fact is that Pink didn’t publish the song in the United States, only in Europe, Canada and Australia. This is a contradiction to one ofher statements in an interview:

"I hope the president is proud of the fact that we live in a country where we can do things like that, where we can have dissent, talk, communicate and share our opinions."[1]

In my opinion it’s a very cynical and provocative statement because we hear that the people in the United States are getting only filtrated information and that they can’t speak out their minds openly without seeing consequences. We have learned that Pink wrote the song to attack George W. Bush as President and his administration and furthermore it is said that criticism is allowed to be expressed in a country like the United States.[2]

After the Election of Barack Obama, as new president of the United States, Pink declared that she’d never sing this song during his president ship. From that one can conclude that this song is only an open attack against George W. Bush.

The song starts with the lyrics “Dear Mr. President, come take a walk with me. Let's pretend we'rejust twopeople andyou're not better than me.”[3] It seems to be an open invitation for the President, but in reality she is diminishing his respect because she makes him socially equal with herself, which is underlined by the fact that she addresses him not in a formal way, but calls him “Dear”.

“I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.” With this phrase Pink tells him that she wants to be honest with him and tell him all the things everyone is thinking about him, but because of the lack of courage no one ever would pronounce loudly. In return she expects him to be as fair-minded as she’ll be and that he’d give her an honest answer or at least an answer at all.

“What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?” With this line Pink may refer to the people which were left homeless after the hurricane Katrina in 2005 because Bush was very slow with his reaction to the threat as well as with the help after the destruction. [4] Another important fact, referring to this line, could be the increase of the homeless people in the United States, whose number has quadrupled in the last twenty years, but it is said, that it didn’t have anything to do with the presidency of Bush.

“Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep? What do you feel when you look in the mirror? Are you proud?” With these three questions she asks him if he has kept his promise to help people. He had the chance to change society or have a positive influence on it, but he failed to do so.

“How do you sleep while the rest of us cry? How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?” These two lines seem to refer to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the death of many American Soldiers. Bush always did send a lot of them to fight for their country, but has made a huge loss of soldiers and also innocent children and their parents, especially mothers, who have lost their children without having a chance to say goodbye.

“How do you walk with your head held high? Can you even look me in the eye and tell me why? ” Here she wants him to show some emotion. She knows that he isn’t proud of himself and uncomfortable to face his own actions, but she would like to hear him admit that he is proud ofhis actions and doings.

“Dear Mr. President, Were you a lonely boy? Are you a lonely boy? Are you a lonely boy?” This sentence is hard to analyze exactly because it can have a lot of different meanings. On the one hand it could be seen as a question if he is a bad person. He had an excessive youth but is living a life as a good boy now, trying to do and make everything better. On the other hand it could be interpreted that he stands alone with his opinion about some topics, such as being against abortion and against homosexual relations.

“How can you say no child is left behind? We're not dumb and we're not blind. They're all sitting in your cells while you pave the road to hell.” With the “No child left behind act” he wanted to improve the education system in the United States, but this never worked out during his president ship because the government wouldn’t provide any money to support it, a huge amount of money was wasted for making war instead.

“What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?” This part is referring to George Bush’s policy of anti-abortion, he wanted to deny a woman the right to abortion because as a Methodist he believes that life begins at conception and therefore abortion would be a murder, a crime.

“And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?” This line demonstrates Bush’s attitude towards homosexual relations, which violates the Methodist standards as well. He also wanted to create a piece of legislature which would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman solely, called Marriage Protection Amendment.[5] You can recognize his attitude from the example of the daughter of Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States, who revealed that she lived in a homosexual


[1] http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1519661/20060103/pink.jhtml (last access 07.06.2010)

[2] http://www.as.wvu.edu/~tsloane/students/current/pdf/songssp09/kaplansong.pdf (last access: 07.07.2010)

[3] http://www.songtexte.com/songtext/pnk/dear-mr-president-bdb7d22.html (last access: 06.07.2010)

[4] http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/290013/analyzing_a_political_anthem_pinks.html?cat=9 (last access 07.06.2010)

[5] http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=2042516&page=1 (last access: 06.07.2010)

Whether you think of it as a statement on female empowerment or simply a fun workplace comedy, the 1980 hit 9 to 5—which featured Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton as a trio of secretaries who turn the tables on their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss (Dabney Coleman)—is a bona fide comedy classic. In honor of its 35th anniversary, here are 14 things you might not know about the Oscar-nominated film.


9 to 5 was produced by Jane Fonda’s company, IPC Films, and the idea originated from a real-life organization. “My ideas for films always come from things that I hear and perceive in my daily life,” Fonda told The Canberra Times in 1981. “In that case, a very old friend of mine had started an organization in Boston called 'Nine To Five,’ which was an association of women office workers. I heard them talking about their work and they had some great stories. And I've always been attracted to those 1940s films with three female stars.”


Though it’s ranked number 74 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time, 9 to 5 didn’t start out as a comedy. "At first we were going to make a drama,” Fonda explained. “But any way we did it, it seemed too preachy, too much of a feminist line. I'd wanted to work with Lily [Tomlin] for some time, and it suddenly occurred to [producer] Bruce [Gilbert] and me that we should make it a comedy. It remains a ‘labor film,’ but I hope of a new kind, different from The Grapes of Wrath or Salt of the Earth. We took out a lot of stuff that was filmed, even stuff the director, Colin Higgins, thought worked but which I asked to have taken out. I'm just super-sensitive to anything that smacks of the soapbox or lecturing the audience.”


“I had written a very dark comedy in which the secretaries actually tried to kill the boss, although they tried to kill him in sort of funny ways,” screenwriter Patricia Resnick told Rolling Stone. “Originally, Jane had been concerned that would be too dark. I screened an old Charlie Chaplin film called Monsieur Verdoux for her. In it, Chaplin's wife is blind and he has a child. He's kind of a Blackbeard, he romances a series of woman through the course of the movie and murders them in order to get money and support his family. It is a comedy, but at the end they hang him. I turned to Jane at the end of the movie and tears were rolling down her cheeks—but she was concerned the women wouldn't be sympathetic enough. I said, ‘He really killed all these women and you're crying. I just want them to try! They won't be successful.’ And she said OK. But then when Colin came in, he was very influenced by Warner Bros. cartoons and things like that, and so their attempts to kill him became the fantasy scenes, and he made it a much broader comedy.”


Just because a writer has a particular actor in mind when writing a script doesn’t mean he or she will end up playing the part. In fact, it’s a rarity. But Resnick lucked out with 9 to 5. “We had Jane for sure, because it was her idea to do the film and it was her production company,” Resnick told Rolling Stone. “It was written for Dolly and Lily, but we did not have them under contract. We really wanted them, but we did have some backup ideas in case they turned us down. For Lily, it was Carol Burnett, and for Dolly, it was Ann-Margret. But I had Dolly, Lily and Jane in my head the whole time, and we were really hoping that's who it was going to be.”


Though the role of Violet Newstead was written specifically for Tomlin, the legendary actress and comedian turned down the part when it was first offered to her. “I was shooting The Incredible Shrinking Woman and I was so overworked,” Tomlin explained to the Evening Times. “I'd worked for seven months on that movie, so I was ready to just shut my eyes to anything else.” It was Tomlin’s wife, Jane Wagner, who changed her mind. “My partner Jane said to me, ‘This is the biggest mistake of your life.’ She said, ‘You've got to get on the phone and tell Jane Fonda you want to take back the resignation … And I am grateful that I did it. They became two of my good friends, you know.”


When 9 to 5 premiered on December 19, 1980, Dolly Parton was already a major country music star, but she was a Hollywood newcomer. In a 1980 interview with Today, Fonda shared that when the film’s tone shifted from drama to comedy, the idea of casting Parton arose. And part of what made her perfect for the role was “her music. But particularly the songs that she writes—she’s a great songwriter—and the songs have a kind of depth and humanity that made me feel that she could act.”


In the same interview with Today, Parton admitted that the closest she had come to a movie set before shooting 9 to 5 was taking the Universal Studios tour. So when she got the script for the film, she assumed that she had to memorize every word of every character’s part. “I memorized it,” said Parton. “I just assumed that you had to. My part and [Lily’s] part and [Jane’s] part and Dabney’s part. But I just knew the script back and forth and every week I would read it … I would practice.”


Parton may have been a Hollywood newcomer, but she was savvy. She agreed to take the part in 9 to 5, but only if she could write the theme song as well. Fonda agreed, and Parton wrote the song while the movie was filming. In 1981, she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for “9 to 5.”


During a 2009 appearance on The View, Parton shared that she composed the song using her fingernails, which to the singer-songwriter sounded like a typewriter. In the final version of the song, you can hear her acrylic fingernails as part of the percussion section.

Parton’s fingernails also became part of her defense when she was sued by Neil and Janice Goldberg in 1983, who claimed that the singer copied their 1976 song, “Money World.” “I worked on the song at my hotel,” Parton testified in 1985. “On the set, I'd rub my fingernails together like this,” she continued, demonstrating her composing technique.


In the spring of 1980, seven months before the debut of 9 to 5, Sheena Easton released a song titled “9 to 5” in the U.K. By the time the song made its way to American radio listeners in February of 1981, its title had been changed to “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” in order to avoid any confusion with Parton’s song. The song was Easton’s biggest hit.


The workplace comedy was a hit with audiences, earning more than $100 million at the box office—a grand total that made it the second biggest hit of 1980 (only The Empire Strikes Back made more).


Considering its popularity with audiences, it’s hardly surprising that studio heads were interested in prepping a sequel. For years, the proposed follow-up was on the table. “We tried for a long time for a sequel," Tomlin told Buzz Worthy in 2012. "There were two or three scripts but they weren't what we wanted."

“People would love to see the three of them together again,” Resnick told Rolling Stone. “For years there was talk of a sequel or a remake, but as Dolly always says, ‘It's 9 to 5, not 95!’ Doing a remake with them, that ship has probably sailed.”


Though it wasn’t nearly as popular as the film, 9 to 5 was adapted for the small screen with a sitcom that ran from 1982 to 1988. It didn’t feature any of the original actresses, but Dolly Parton’s younger sister, Rachel Dennison, played Doralee (Parton’s character in the film).


On April 7, 2009—nearly 30 years after the film’s release—9 to 5 made its debut as a Broadway musical. Allison Janney played Tomlin’s part, Stephanie J. Block took over for Fonda, and Megan Hilty filled Parton’s shoes. The show closed five months later

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