Northland musician's first international song release clocks up 12m Facebook hits

By Peter de Graaf -
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Merv Pinny in his home studio in the Bay of Islands, where he recorded O.B. Can you hear the children cry?  Photo / Peter de Graaf
Merv Pinny in his home studio in the Bay of Islands, where he recorded O.B. Can you hear the children cry? Photo / Peter de Graaf

A Northland musician's first attempt at releasing a song internationally via social media has clocked up a whopping 12 million Facebook views.

Merv Pinny, who lives in the Bay of Islands, posted the video for O.B. Can you hear the children cry? on his Facebook page in July.

He hoped to get a few hundred views for the blues-rock number inspired by TV footage of children's suffering in wars ravaging parts of the Middle East and streams of refugees trying to reach Europe.

Within hours it had been watched 3000 times; within weeks it had reached 10 million views. The current tally is 12 million and climbing.

Mr Pinny played his first gig at the age of 14 but since selling his farm earlier this year - he and his wife Cara had built up Northland's biggest dairy operation - he has been able to devote more time to music.

O.B. Can you hear the children cry? is his first international release and the first time he has used social media to promote a song.

Previously his greatest success was in the 1990s when his song Destiny was named rock single of the year at the Waikato Music Awards. The album of the same name was a finalist for country album of the year at the 1995 New Zealand Music Awards.

A serious motorcycle accident put his music on hold for several years. He continued playing and writing songs during his farming career but O.B. Can you hear the children cry? marks his return to the public eye.

Mr Pinny said the video first gained traction in the UK before being shared widely in the Middle East and Latin America. The song was now being picked up by radio stations in the US. He had been emailed by people in the Middle East who shared their harrowing stories and told him they felt he had written the song about them.

The song is available via iTunes and other online outlets but Mr Pinny said he would donate all his proceeds to a charity working with children affected by war. World Vision's Children in Crisis was the likely recipient.

He recorded the song in a converted boatshed on the Purerua Peninsula with only the drums played by a professional musician and added in a Perth studio. Mr Pinny also made the video, teaching himself as he went.

O.B. Can you hear the children cry? is the first of three songs Mr Pinny is working on about the suffering caused by war and terrorism. He hopes to release the second before Christmas.

- To see the video go to Merv Pinny music video page on Facebook. See this weekend's 48 Hours for the full story of how a Northland dairy farmer's home-made music video became a worldwide hit.

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