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Saturday, August 10, 2013

For the Love of Tarkan

Tarkan with autistic children
Tarkan was awarded in recognition of his good works with autistic children in 2009

I have been reminded recently that in this beautiful world of ours, we can always do with a little more love.

Whenever I have spoken with colleagues at the office, many of them say they look back more and more at a time when life seemed fun, there was always something to look forward to - holiday picnics, trips, concerts, hanging out with friends. This loveless attitude has become an alarming trend. I know people who feel like they have no money to do anything, and people rich beyond the dreams of Croesus who feel they don't have any friends, but they are all unified in thinking that there are very few positives to the world today, and so have become nostalgic for their childhood.

We can all get like that sometimes, where we look back to times we thought were more safe and secure, more harmonious and certain, and in a profession where we come into contact with crisis every day, I can hardly blame my colleagues for feeling the way they do. So, to stock up on a bit more love, I have persuaded a few friends from the office, who have decided to take a late vacation to Istanbul, to purchase tickets for a Tarkan show while they are in the timeless city.

As envious as I am to join them, I have promised if they don't return to the office feeling better than when they left (and so brighten up the conversation in the office) I would refund their money back. For me it's a no brainer, they will come back full of love, and hope for the future. My main memory of a Tarkan concert is how good it makes everyone feel, and although the majority of my readers are outside of Turkey, if you ever get the chance to watch him sing live, I wholeheartedly recommend you take it for the experience.

Now a large section of my readers might think I am over-selling the influence of the music artist, but Tarkan fans will be able to relate to this. I can even sense a few nodding their heads in agreement as they read. The music artist's voice resonates against disharmonious times, and his followers often treat him as a safety valve in many respects. A Tarkan concert is a chance for people to vent out the injustices they feel, and not simply by dancing their troubles away, but by giving them voice. When people flock to the singer's concerts they do so to leave the old world behind, and go to a better one.

But don't just take my word for it; if the late, great Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegün - known for championing artists like Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles - described Tarkan as one of the best live performers he had ever seen, then I'm not going to argue with someone who obviously knew what he was talking about. For me though, it's not just the studio-perfect sound of his voice, but what the artist promotes through his shows that raises them a note higher.

The greatest iconic singers to come out of America know all about promotion. If Madonna did much to promote racial equality, and Lady Gaga does much to promote sexual equality, then in my humble opinion, Tarkan promotes cultural equality. This is what is special about Tarkan, he helps people transcend boundaries because he doesn't sing in English; he reaches out with the universal motifs of good music, love and feeling to bring his listeners closer. That is what creates harmony.

Of course - before anyone emails in to lovingly tug my ears - the iconic pop ladies I mentioned are incomparable legends, including the size of their respected fan bases, but, again, Tarkan's fan base exudes much of his own harmony. From my personal experience, many people from across the world have forged close friendships, and met people they might otherwise not have met save for Tarkan's music. He has touched lives in numerous ways, and I believe that many of Tarkan's hardcore fans are attracted to the artist because of this harmony he radiates though his music and persona - and through all the good works he has achieved.

Early in his career he showed Turkish youth that it was okay to follow their passions; to dance if you loved to dance, to cry if you felt like crying, to have the courage to let the freedom inside of you come out. That cheeky, flirty wild-child of youth has grown up into the responsible image of a decent man; a good role model, but more importantly, a good person.

I had thought about listing all the good works that Tarkan has done, but I can't, because the list is endless (and because most has been done in secret). Just trawl through the Tarkan news reports at Tarkan Deluxe and you will come up with numerous stories that we do know about, of how Tarkan has helped children in need, campaigned for the rights of women, and raised awareness for the ethical treatment of animals. His love for children, animals and the Earth, whilst living a lifestyle accordingly, purchasing land to heal it, adopting stray animals and promoting the protection of natural habitats, makes him respect worthy in my eyes.

Moreover in maturity, he has still managed to retain what makes him Tarkan. His female fans will tell you they still see in his eyes that young Tarkan - with the same message to love life and to live it fully. It's simply that now he is saying we need to allow that same dignity and freedom to all living things.

It's not with some small measure of pride, therefore, that I am glad I have spent these years supporting a singer who is such a good role model. I owe him a debt of gratitude for reminding us there is light, even when times might seem dark. That debt is further paid with the legal purchase of his music and tickets to his concerts. We could all do with a little more love, especially during hard times, so that's why I recommended my friends go to a Tarkan concert, but you also have the bonus of feeling good because you know your money is well spent.

It's a donation to a better future in a way, because you know that somewhere down the line your invested cash will go to a good cause. Supporting Tarkan means supporting love and harmony, and you get musical bang for your buck. Who could ask for more?

For the people of his generation, he was a way to venture in and discover who they really were, or wanted to be. He reminded us that joy flows when there is dance, music and song. He helped us hear the music inside, and to tune in and dance to it.

Plus, as love was Tarkan's favourite dancing partner, he made us want to grab hold of it, too. He taught us that if you are in with love, it opens your eyes to beauty. If you are in with love, then things always look better. But arguably, he is the biggest shining example of one of the most important lessons we can learn in this world.

It is simply this: If you are in with love, then you are loved.

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