Dolly Parton’s First Real Life 9 to 5

What a Way to Make a Livin'

When Dolly Parton was a teenager, all she really wanted to do was write songs. But what she needed to do was make money. So she found a job that let her kind of combine her efforts.

In a new animated series on, Parton talks about what her first real job was when she moved to Nashville in the early ’60s.

“My first job was trying to become a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. Since I wasn’t making any money,” Parton admits, “I got a job at an outdoor sign company called Northern Outdoor Sign.”

Her neighbor owned the company, and he gave Parton the opportunity to handle some secretarial tasks.

“He would let me come and answer the phone, and still gave me a chance to write my songs, and use his phone to call people. It was really a job within a job,” she says.

It sounds like the job taught her how to multi-task, work hard and never lose her sense of her true purpose (All things I wish I’d learned at my first job, selling cookies at a Mrs. Field in a mall).

Parton doesn’t say how long she worked there, but she signed with Tree Publishing in 1962 and then with Combine publishing in 1965, so I’m guessing her tenure was short lived. And thank God for that.