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December 5, 2021 8:26 pm  #1


Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

I recall Ronnie singing this song at the Summer Gardens in Port Dover, Ontario back in the early 60s. As with most of Ronnie's songs, I presumed it was a cover of some other artist's work, but for the life of me, I don't know who did it first. The lyrics sound like they were probably from an early blues singer. I checked with a couple of lyrics sites, and this is typical of their answers... "We've found 113 lyrics, 6 artists, and 9 albums matching Odessa." but none of them are the song I recall Hawkins singing.
Any ideas folks?

 

December 5, 2021 10:19 pm  #2


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

I did some searching, and found a reference to it in the following book that would seem to indicate that it could have actually been written by Hawkins -- and I couldn't find anything that would dispute this. 
https://books.google.ca/books?id=c--zNXu1v74C&pg=PA1948&lpg=PA1948#v=onepage&q&f=false
 

 

December 6, 2021 3:39 am  #3


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Cloud9 wrote:

I recall Ronnie singing this song at the Summer Gardens in Port Dover, Ontario back in the early 60s. As with most of Ronnie's songs, I presumed it was a cover of some other artist's work, but for the life of me, I don't know who did it first. The lyrics sound like they were probably from an early blues singer. I checked with a couple of lyrics sites, and this is typical of their answers... "We've found 113 lyrics, 6 artists, and 9 albums matching Odessa." but none of them are the song I recall Hawkins singing.
Any ideas folks?

the following link should answer all your questions:
https://www.allmusic.com/song/odessa-mt0041293546

while "odessa" is arguably one of, if not his finest, my fave hawk song remains "there's a screw loose."
 

 

December 6, 2021 10:34 am  #4


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Thanks to both Lorne and Gopher. You've provided me with some interesting reading... and several more questions... but I'll leave those for another day. Thanks again.  E.
 

     Thread Starter
 

December 6, 2021 5:54 pm  #5


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Good luck trying to confirm whether the Hawk wrote it. If you look at the label of the Hawk album it first appeared on (courtesy of Discogs), it lists the songwriters as Hawkins and McGill. Who's McGill you ask? According to the Second Hand Songs website "Jacqueline Magill" is a bit of a mystery, as she is listed as a songwriter only on some Roulette releases and was reportedly label boss Morris Levy's girlfriend during the pertinent periods. Levy (and Roulette) had something of a reputation of playing fast and loose with songwriting credits." In fact, if you look at the label you'll see that Hawkins and Magill are given credit for writing "Ruby Baby", which was actually written by Lieber and Stoller.
https://img.discogs.com/41Pr3u8qF2wm9T6H0KXS-NXZl1Q=/fit-in/500x499/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-3722913-1341777305-7057.jpeg.jpg

 

December 6, 2021 6:49 pm  #6


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Roman wrote:

Good luck trying to confirm whether the Hawk wrote it. If you look at the label of the Hawk album it first appeared on (courtesy of Discogs), it lists the songwriters as Hawkins and McGill. Who's McGill you ask? According to the Second Hand Songs website "Jacqueline Magill" is a bit of a mystery, as she is listed as a songwriter only on some Roulette releases and was reportedly label boss Morris Levy's girlfriend during the pertinent periods. Levy (and Roulette) had something of a reputation of playing fast and loose with songwriting credits." In fact, if you look at the label you'll see that Hawkins and Magill are given credit for writing "Ruby Baby", which was actually written by Lieber and Stoller.

I saw all of the above before I posted, but I didn't feel like trying to sort it out once I saw the reference to the origins of "Odessa" in that book. That was partly because just before that reference, I saw that it dealt with the Levy/Magill/Hawkins songwriting situation. And on the previous page, which you can access by clicking on the arrow above the page, it specifically discusses "Ruby Baby" as well as the very well-known change of Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days" to "Forty Days".
But there's further reason to figure that "Odessa" really was a Hawkins song, and Goph's link provided a good assist in that regard. If you look at the comp from Rhino at https://www.allmusic.com/album/original-album-series-mw0002987163, it credits the actual writers of "Ruby Baby" and "Forty Days", and it shows Hawkins as the writer of "Odessa" ... it also shows Magill, but I would imagine that the song was legally registered that way. What's especially significant about this is that Rhino owns the rights to Levy's Roulette recordings (see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhino_Entertainment). And Bear Family, which of course is another reputable label, also shows "Odessa" as having been written by Hawkins.
Ironically, however, you didn't mention the one person who I think could have also been involved with writing the song: Levon Helm. I read elsewhere that he also knew Odessa, and so it certainly wouldn't surprise me if he might have helped with writing the song but not gotten any credit for it. But aside from that possibility, I've no doubt that it's a Hawkins song. There's no indication anywhere that it came from anyone else, and I couldn't find any evidence of any other artist having ever recorded it ... not even under a different title.

 

December 6, 2021 8:41 pm  #7


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote:

Roman wrote:

Good luck trying to confirm whether the Hawk wrote it. If you look at the label of the Hawk album it first appeared on (courtesy of Discogs), it lists the songwriters as Hawkins and McGill. Who's McGill you ask? According to the Second Hand Songs website "Jacqueline Magill" is a bit of a mystery, as she is listed as a songwriter only on some Roulette releases and was reportedly label boss Morris Levy's girlfriend during the pertinent periods. Levy (and Roulette) had something of a reputation of playing fast and loose with songwriting credits." In fact, if you look at the label you'll see that Hawkins and Magill are given credit for writing "Ruby Baby", which was actually written by Lieber and Stoller.

I saw all of the above before I posted, but I didn't feel like trying to sort it out once I saw the reference to the origins of "Odessa" in that book. That was partly because just before that reference, I saw that it dealt with the Levy/Magill/Hawkins songwriting situation. And on the previous page, which you can access by clicking on the arrow above the page, it specifically discusses "Ruby Baby" as well as the very well-known change of Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days" to "Forty Days".
But there's further reason to figure that "Odessa" really was a Hawkins song, and Goph's link provided a good assist in that regard. If you look at the comp from Rhino at https://www.allmusic.com/album/original-album-series-mw0002987163, it credits the actual writers of "Ruby Baby" and "Forty Days", and it shows Hawkins as the writer of "Odessa" ... it also shows Magill, but I would imagine that the song was legally registered that way. What's especially significant about this is that Rhino owns the rights to Levy's Roulette recordings (see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhino_Entertainment). And Bear Family, which of course is another reputable label, also shows "Odessa" as having been written by Hawkins.
Ironically, however, you didn't mention the one person who I think could have also been involved with writing the song: Levon Helm. I read elsewhere that he also knew Odessa, and so it certainly wouldn't surprise me if he might have helped with writing the song but not gotten any credit for it. But aside from that possibility, I've no doubt that it's a Hawkins song. There's no indication anywhere that it came from anyone else, and I couldn't find any evidence of any other artist having ever recorded it ... not even under a different title.

There's really no irony with me not mentioning Levon. He's not a song writer, although if you dig hard enough you might find a handful of credits.
 

 

December 6, 2021 8:42 pm  #8


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote  -  "Levon Helm. I read elsewhere that he also knew Odessa, and so it certainly wouldn't surprise me if he might have helped with writing the song but not gotten any credit for it."

That wouldn't surprise me in the least. I've always suspected that Levon got the short end of the stick when it came to his song-writing contributions, both during his earlier years with The Hawks, and later on with The Band. Having said that, I have nothing to base my suspicions on except gut feelings.

Last edited by Cloud9 (December 6, 2021 8:46 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

December 6, 2021 9:13 pm  #9


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Helm didn't have a lot of songwriting credits, but he did have a few that were in collaboration with other writers. And so given that Hawkins has stated that Helm also knew Odessa, it wouldn't surprise me if Helm could have contributed in some way to this song as well. However, the main thing is that all indications are that the song originated with Hawkins. 

 

December 7, 2021 9:39 am  #10


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Roman wrote:

Good luck trying to confirm whether the Hawk wrote it. If you look at the label of the Hawk album it first appeared on (courtesy of Discogs), it lists the songwriters as Hawkins and McGill. Who's McGill you ask? According to the Second Hand Songs website "Jacqueline Magill" is a bit of a mystery, as she is listed as a songwriter only on some Roulette releases and was reportedly label boss Morris Levy's girlfriend during the pertinent periods. Levy (and Roulette) had something of a reputation of playing fast and loose with songwriting credits." In fact, if you look at the label you'll see that Hawkins and Magill are given credit for writing "Ruby Baby", which was actually written by Lieber and Stoller.
https://img.discogs.com/41Pr3u8qF2wm9T6H0KXS-NXZl1Q=/fit-in/500x499/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-3722913-1341777305-7057.jpeg.jpg

in the case of odessa, i'd wager the hawk wrote the song, as it does appear to be in his ballad style of the period. but you have a point. it's hard to know who put whose name on recordings or why, then.

 

Last edited by gopher (December 7, 2021 9:46 am)

 

December 7, 2021 10:01 am  #11


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

From what I looked at, it seems that originally all his songs were being credited to Hawkins-Magill. That included "Forty Days", until he and Levy were forced to give credit to Chuck Berry, and then eventually other songs like "Ruby Baby" and "Mary Lou" had to be properly credited as well. So that's why I figure that the way to sort this out is to look at modern collections that are shown at the allmusic link you posted ... they properly credit all the songs that were actually written by others, but still show Hawkins-Magill for the ones that he wrote.

 

December 7, 2021 10:18 am  #12


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Roman wrote:

Lorne wrote:

Roman wrote:

Good luck trying to confirm whether the Hawk wrote it. If you look at the label of the Hawk album it first appeared on (courtesy of Discogs), it lists the songwriters as Hawkins and McGill. Who's McGill you ask? According to the Second Hand Songs website "Jacqueline Magill" is a bit of a mystery, as she is listed as a songwriter only on some Roulette releases and was reportedly label boss Morris Levy's girlfriend during the pertinent periods. Levy (and Roulette) had something of a reputation of playing fast and loose with songwriting credits." In fact, if you look at the label you'll see that Hawkins and Magill are given credit for writing "Ruby Baby", which was actually written by Lieber and Stoller.

I saw all of the above before I posted, but I didn't feel like trying to sort it out once I saw the reference to the origins of "Odessa" in that book. That was partly because just before that reference, I saw that it dealt with the Levy/Magill/Hawkins songwriting situation. And on the previous page, which you can access by clicking on the arrow above the page, it specifically discusses "Ruby Baby" as well as the very well-known change of Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days" to "Forty Days".
But there's further reason to figure that "Odessa" really was a Hawkins song, and Goph's link provided a good assist in that regard. If you look at the comp from Rhino at https://www.allmusic.com/album/original-album-series-mw0002987163, it credits the actual writers of "Ruby Baby" and "Forty Days", and it shows Hawkins as the writer of "Odessa" ... it also shows Magill, but I would imagine that the song was legally registered that way. What's especially significant about this is that Rhino owns the rights to Levy's Roulette recordings (see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhino_Entertainment). And Bear Family, which of course is another reputable label, also shows "Odessa" as having been written by Hawkins.
Ironically, however, you didn't mention the one person who I think could have also been involved with writing the song: Levon Helm. I read elsewhere that he also knew Odessa, and so it certainly wouldn't surprise me if he might have helped with writing the song but not gotten any credit for it. But aside from that possibility, I've no doubt that it's a Hawkins song. There's no indication anywhere that it came from anyone else, and I couldn't find any evidence of any other artist having ever recorded it ... not even under a different title.

There's really no irony with me not mentioning Levon. He's not a song writer, although if you dig hard enough you might find a handful of credits.
 

true, levon wasn't a songwriter, but he was a song farmer. as was mentioned before, i can certainly imagine him having possibly put the odessa idea in ronnie's head, from another source.
 

 

December 7, 2021 10:42 am  #13


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Helm may not have written any songs on his own, but Second Hand Songs has the following list of songs that were subsequently done by others where he had received a songwriter credit -- and this list wouldn't include any songs that he helped write which weren't ever covered. 
https://secondhandsongs.com/artist/21290/works
And by the way, I also checked for "Odessa" on this site but couldn't find it. That would seem to indicate that no one else has ever recorded it, which is further reason to believe that it was a Hawkins original -- along with the fact that as far as I know, this doesn't seem to be questioned anywhere.

 

December 7, 2021 2:33 pm  #14


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote:

Helm may not have written any songs on his own, but Second Hand Songs has the following list of songs that were subsequently done by others where he had received a songwriter credit -- and this list wouldn't include any songs that he helped write which weren't ever covered. 
https://secondhandsongs.com/artist/21290/works
And by the way, I also checked for "Odessa" on this site but couldn't find it. That would seem to indicate that no one else has ever recorded it, which is further reason to believe that it was a Hawkins original -- along with the fact that as far as I know, this doesn't seem to be questioned anywhere.

https://www.discogs.com/release/5839565-Sonny-Burgess-Fraulien-Odessa
 

 

December 7, 2021 2:54 pm  #15


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Thanks, that's a great find. Well, aside from the misspelled title "Fraulien" ... that song is so well-known, that you don't have to know any German to recognize that it should actually be "Fraulein". But more importantly, I did a search to make sure that the flip side is the same "Odessa", and it is ... and since it's credited to Hawkins-Magill, it provides additional backup re this originally having been a Hawkins song. Nice version, too.

 
 

 

December 7, 2021 6:01 pm  #16


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote:

Thanks, that's a great find. Well, aside from the title "Fraulien" ... that song is so well-known, that you don't have to know any German to recognize that it should obviously be "Fraulein". But more importantly, I did a search to make sure that the flip side is the same Odessa, and it is ... and since it's credited to Hawkins-Magill, it provides additional backup re this originally being a Hawkins song. Nice version, too.

 
 

Well, as you said, if they can't spell Fraulein it's pretty flimsy back-up.
 

 

December 8, 2021 6:55 am  #17


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote:

Thanks, that's a great find. Well, aside from the misspelled title "Fraulien" ... that song is so well-known, that you don't have to know any German to recognize that it should actually be "Fraulein". But more importantly, I did a search to make sure that the flip side is the same "Odessa", and it is ... and since it's credited to Hawkins-Magill, it provides additional backup re this originally having been a Hawkins song. Nice version, too.

 
 

before roman posted i was about to reply that i'd be flabbergasted if their were no odessa covers. it must have been a coffee  house/garage-folk favorite which would have attracted other artists to it, at least. perhaps the covers are still hiding in a mid-sixties attic somewhere?
 

Last edited by gopher (December 8, 2021 7:02 am)

 

December 8, 2021 9:34 am  #18


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

gopher wrote:

before roman posted i was about to reply that i'd be flabbergasted if their were no odessa covers. it must have been a coffee  house/garage-folk favorite which would have attracted other artists to it, at least. perhaps the covers are still hiding in a mid-sixties attic somewhere? 

I've found the Second Hand Songs site to be very thorough, and so that's why I had made that comment. But I was happy to be proven wrong. And so in light of what Roman found, I did some more searching and found another cover that was done by The Wild Angels ... and it states below that "The Wild Angels started as a garage rock-a-billy band in the UK in 1967 and was selected to be Gene Vincent's backing group on his British Tour the next year." So your garage comment is right as well. 
http://theband.hiof.no/albums/live_wild_red_hot_and_rockin.html
However, something else has occurred to me about all of this. None of us are finding a version of "Odessa" that was done before Hawkins did it, unlike other songs where he and Magill were originally wrongly credited as the songwriters. And while Hawkins could have changed the name of the woman involved if he was covering another artist's song, he didn't do this with "Ruby Baby" or "Mary Lou" -- and I think by now one of us would have discovered it if he had with this song. So everything is pointing to him being the author of the song.

 

December 11, 2021 7:49 am  #19


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote:

gopher wrote:

before roman posted i was about to reply that i'd be flabbergasted if there were no odessa covers. it must have been a coffee  house/garage-folk favorite which would have attracted other artists to it, at least. perhaps the covers are still hiding in a mid-sixties attic somewhere? 

I've found the Second Hand Songs site to be very thorough, and so that's why I had made that comment. But I was happy to be proven wrong. And so in light of what Roman found, I did some more searching and found another cover that was done by The Wild Angels ... and it states below that "The Wild Angels started as a garage rock-a-billy band in the UK in 1967 and was selected to be Gene Vincent's backing group on his British Tour the next year." So your garage comment is right as well. 
http://theband.hiof.no/albums/live_wild_red_hot_and_rockin.html
However, something else has occurred to me about all of this. None of us are finding a version of "Odessa" that was done before Hawkins did it, unlike other songs where he and Magill were originally wrongly credited as the songwriters. And while Hawkins could have changed the name of the woman involved if he was covering another artist's song, he didn't do this with "Ruby Baby" or "Mary Lou" -- and I think by now one of us would have discovered it if he had with this song. So everything is pointing to him being the author of the song.

who (except the hawk or perhaps a biographer) knows, but maybe it was ronnie's first writing shot. ya gotta start somewhere. he knocked odessa outta the park, regardless.

funny, a few posts back, i was almost about to suggest maybe the topic should be moved to the band hiof site. great board there, at least if you're prepared to be totally reverent, given my experience with it..
 

Last edited by gopher (December 13, 2021 3:38 am)

 

December 11, 2021 10:08 pm  #20


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

gopher wrote:

who (except the hawk or perhaps a biographer) knows, but maybe it was ronnie's first writing shot. ya gotta start somewhere. he knocked odessa aoutta the park, regardless.

funny, a few posts back, i was almost about to suggest maybe the topic should be moved to the band hiof site. great board there, at least if you're prepared to be totally reverent, given my experience with it.. 

Yes, I had some similar thoughts about these things myself. I'm inclined to think that Odessa was indeed one of his first attempts at writing, but the whole situation with the early songs that were credited to Hawkins and Magill really would definitely benefit from a more thorough analysis by a biographer ... I just went with that book because I could see that it was very well-researched, and I couldn't find anything better. As for The Band website, I had completely forgotten about it until it came up as a result of one of my searches. However, I certainly remembered finding out about it many years ago on the previous board and thinking that it was excellent, and I think that I learned about it because of you referencing it there. I agree that the authorship of this song would be an excellent question to ask there, but unfortunately it now has a message that "This site is no longer active, but our massive archives will be kept on-line." In case you're interested, I also found that the last update was posted earlier this year, at http://theband.hiof.no/updates.html.

 

December 13, 2021 4:09 am  #21


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote:

gopher wrote:

who (except the hawk or perhaps a biographer) knows, but maybe it was ronnie's first writing shot. ya gotta start somewhere. he knocked odessa aoutta the park, regardless.

funny, a few posts back, i was almost about to suggest maybe the topic should be moved to the band hiof site. great board there, at least if you're prepared to be totally reverent, given my experience with it.. 

Yes, I had some similar thoughts about these things myself. I'm inclined to think that Odessa was indeed one of his first attempts at writing, but the whole situation with the early songs that were credited to Hawkins and Magill really would definitely benefit from a more thorough analysis by a biographer ... I just went with that book because I could see that it was very well-researched, and I couldn't find anything better. As for The Band website, I had completely forgotten about it until it came up as a result of one of my searches. However, I certainly remembered finding out about it many years ago on the previous board and thinking that it was excellent, and I think that I learned about it because of you referencing it there. I agree that the authorship of this song would be an excellent question to ask there, but unfortunately it now has a message that "This site is no longer active, but our massive archives will be kept on-line." In case you're interested, I also found that the last update was posted earlier this year, at http://theband.hiof.no/updates.html.

i'd totally forgotten about it, but now that you mention it i seem to recall that some time back the band site's board was shut down due to some sort of spamming issue. sorry to hear that the entire site is no longer active, but the archives were pretty massive then, and as i also remember, ouite far reaching, well past the sphere of the band itself.

say, is colin escott still around? i bet he'd have a ronnie file in his cabinet (maybe one for sophie, too) which might contain answers to any odessa question. just a thought...
 

 

December 13, 2021 9:20 am  #22


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

I did a search and found a recent article that says that Colin Escott is living near Nashville. 
https://www.registercitizen.com/entertainment/article/Palace-Theater-welcomes-touring-Million-Dollar-16670623.php
However, in terms of your suggestion of a biographer, I found one on The Band website ... details are at https://theband.hiof.no/books/the_hawk.html. But I couldn't find any way of searching what's in it online, and I'm also satisfied that everything points to Hawkins being the author anyway. 
 

 

December 14, 2021 10:15 am  #23


Re: Ronnie Hawkins "Odessa"

Lorne wrote:

I did a search and found a recent article that says that Colin Escott is living near Nashville. 
https://www.registercitizen.com/entertainment/article/Palace-Theater-welcomes-touring-Million-Dollar-16670623.php
However, in terms of your suggestion of a biographer, I found one on The Band website ... details are at https://theband.hiof.no/books/the_hawk.html. But I couldn't find any way of searching what's in it online, and I'm also satisfied that everything points to Hawkins being the author anyway. 
 

sorry to learn that colin has become an expatriate, but i suppose it's a tad easier than commuting i reckon.
 

 

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