The song was written for the comedy film 9 to 5, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Parton in her film debut. The song—and film—owe their titles to 9to5, an organization founded in 1973 with the aim of bringing about fair pay and equal treatment for women in the workplace.
The song is also featured in a musical theateradaptation of the film, featuring a book by the film’s original writer, Patricia Resnick, and 20 additional songs written by Dolly Parton. 9 to 5began showing previews in Los Angeles on September 9, 2008, and played on Broadwayat the Marquis Theatre from April until September 2009 before touring. In 2012, a UK theatre tour of 9 to 5 began.
A few months before Parton’s song and the film, Scottish singer Sheena Easton released a single called “9 to 5” in the UK. When Easton’s song was released in the U.S. the following year it was renamed “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” to avoid confusion. Easton’s single reached the number one spot on the BillboardHot 100 chart three months after Parton’s song left that spot. Despite similar titles, the two songs are different in lyrical themes.