This story was originally published Dec. 7, 2020.
Dolly Parton's favorite time of the day is not 9 to 5. It's more like 3 to 7.
The 74-year-old country music legend gave some insight into her (very early) morning routine in an interview with RuPaul for Marie Claire magazine in which she shares how she gets things done when most people are sleeping and still cooks a savory Southern breakfast for her husband of 54 years.
"I’m a very, very, very early riser," she said. "I go to bed pretty early, but I’m up and down. If I wake up and I’m pretty well awake, I think, I’ve got so much to do, I’ll get up and I’ll work a little while, write a little while, and I’ll lay back down.
"But I’m always, almost always up for good around 3 a.m. So I do some of my best spiritual work, some of my best writing, and some of my business work—call-ins and letters that I’m writing or whatever—between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. I get more work done during that little period of time when the world is calm, energies are down, and I just feel like a farmer. They say the early bird gets the worm. Well, they also get a lot of good ideas too."
Before she does any writing or other career-related activities, she always does one thing first.
"I’m a very spiritual person," she said. "Every single day, before I do anything, I wake up and I thank God for the night and ask him to bless the day and to bring all the right things...all the wrong people out of my life, and bring all the right stuff in. And just to guide me, lead me. And I always pray that he’ll let me uplift mankind and glorify Him."
Parton will also read some scriptures or meditations to get her day started, and she doesn't need much rest in order to recharge.
"I don’t require a lot of sleep," she said. "Three to five hours I can work on. Five hours I like to get. But usually I’m between three and five. But usually, if I’m on the job, I’ll take a little power nap."
She also likes to get in the kitchen and start the day with husband Carl Dean, whose sense of humor and low-key nature have made him a perfect match for her since they first started dating 57 years ago.
"Well, this morning I made breakfast for my husband and me," she said. "I made some sausage patties, and I baked some biscuits, and I made some milk gravy. He likes that once in a while. Now, I can’t eat like that all the time, but I enjoy eating it when I do."
In true Dolly Parton fashion, she said she cooks breakfast in her trademark high heels.
"I have to always stay ready—street ready, I always say," she said. "I have to keep my makeup on and keep my hair done. But I actually do wear high heels most of the time.
"They’re not always as high as the ones I wear for show. But I’m little. I’m short. And I have to wear heels in order to reach my cabinets. But I always enjoy wearing the shoes too, and I just feel more like me."
She also shared that underneath all those sequins are some tattoos, but not some kind of full-body art that has often been part of rumors about her.
"The rumors are true...kind of," she said. "I do have some tattoos that are small and tasteful, and I just got them to cover up some scars. Things like butterflies and bows in pretty pastels, but not all over like everyone likes to say."
Building a legacy as one of country music's all-time greats as well as a beloved philanthropist by waking up at 3 a.m. and only sleeping three to five hours a night begs the question: How does she do it?
"Well, I’m energized by just what I do," she said. "It’s like, work begets work, energy begets energy. I just really stay alive because I just live on creative and spiritual energy. I’m like the little Energizer Bunny. I’m just recharged by the excitement of being able to still be active and to still be able to create stuff and to be still in demand.
"That’s exciting to me, that I have all these fans that care about me, and I love us sharing that kind of love and that kind of energy. You know how that feels. People love you. And that’s a great feeling to know that people care about you, and so it kind of generates its own kind of energy."