Can you remember the first song you ever learned? The first song you ever loved? Incy Wincy Spider? Round and Round the Garden? The Hokey Cokey? Our fascination and obsession with music starts early and, for most of us, locks in for the rest of our lives. The rhythms and comforts of the womb are replaced by the rhythms, beats and melodies of the songs our parents teach us, and the tunes we hear in the world around us. And there are so many reasons we listen, so many reasons we enjoy songs and music: the joy of dance and expressing ourselves; relaxation; hearing a story, or something that relates to us; hearing something that makes us laugh or cry; being blown away by the power or soul of the singer or band; being mesmerised by the intricacy of the arrangement, the sounds of the instruments both familiar and strange, the movement of the melody, the surprises that musical genius offer. Our relationship with music almost feels innate, coiled in our DNA, fundamental to who we are and where we are going. It has the ability to transport us instantaneously to a moment in our past, a form of time travel keenly linked to our emotions, both joyful and sombre. As soon as song that means something to us plays, our mind can recall seemingly every detail about the time and place we last heard it, and what was going through our minds at the time. It can be quite surreal, unsettling even. It shares this trait with our sense of smell, which can also wrench us away from the present, back to a time and place we had long since forgotten.
I remember the first time I discovered the angelic low timbre of Karen Carpenter’s voice at aged ten, listening rapt to such songs as Close to You, Yesterday Once More, Goodbye to Love and There’s a Kind of Hush. When I played these songs, something came over me: an instant sensation of peace, tranquillity and unadulterated pleasure. I listened on loop and couldn’t get enough. I was slightly miffed to find out that I wasn’t the first person to discover The Carpenters; I had been keen to spread the word and claim some of the glory for myself. But when I told my parents about my new obsession, my mum smiled and told me that it wasn’t a great surprise. She told me that when I was a baby, I was a pain in the backside because I would never fall asleep. I would cry and scream and generally cause headaches and chaos. The only thing that calmed me down and lulled me into slumber was a drive in the car with the cassette player turned up, listening to the heavenly tone of Karen Carpenter. I was shocked. I had no memory of this whatsoever, but it was somewhere deep down in my subconscious, just waiting to be released once again. The power of music. And it made me enjoy the Carpenters even more.
Another wonderful aspect of music is the way that it can unite us. Anyone can enjoy music, share in it, sing it, dance to it, and some of the most pleasurable musical experiences are formed at gigs and concerts and festivals, with huge crowds massed for a singular purpose, moving as one organism as the musicians and singers hypnotise and entertain. For me, the unifying power of music took place across generations. When I was young, my Dad introduced me to the Beatles, who had taken over the world when he was a child, creating an excitement and ‘mania’ the likes of which may never be seen again. In the car he would play their early tracks: soulful, roaring rock and roll numbers, but layered with incredible harmonies, jangling guitars and thoughtful lyrics. Hearing the ‘oohs’ and ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs,’ I was intoxicated, and I set about listening to everything they had ever recorded, which took me on a journey through a decade of musical genius. My Dad, however, had very strong views about the Beatles later work, saying he felt ‘betrayed’ by their more experimental, surreal and kaleidoscopic songs, feeling that they had moved too far away from the sweet, ‘pure’ love songs that had been so important to him (and his failed romances) when he was a young man. I didn’t feel the same way, and this was the first time I had experienced music as a divisive topic, but it wasn’t the last—just simply something to accept with a subject that inspires such an emotional response.
The next song that I obsessed over was ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin. Now, this wasn’t because I was a fan of the Hollywood movie Top Gun, with which the song became eternally linked, but, well…OK—full disclosure—I am a HUGE fan of the Hollywood movie Top Gun, and I’ve watched it about fifty times…but I love the song even more. The first time I heard the strange, otherworldly synth bass riff that drives the power ballad, I was transfixed. It felt magical, dreamlike; almost as though it had been written just for me. I listened to it over and over, revelling in the effect it had on me, and found myself, for the first time in my life, truly connecting to a song’s lyrics. As an anxious child, I had always escaped my worries by turning inward, to my imagination and safe spaces in my head, and hearing lines like turning and returning to some secret place inside and, more powerfully, …turned to hear you say, if only for today, I am unafraid, I felt comforted and understood, even though it was a song about romantic love, which at that point I didn’t understand, it was also a song about finding safety and shelter. Well, that and flying supersonic jet planes whilst wearing massive aviator shades.
We at Hoogly understand that a good cup tea is something almost as universal as music, a simple pleasure that brings people together, provides comfort and joy, and a national treasure that elicits strong emotions—even if it sometimes provokes a disagreement or two! (Milk first or second, anyone?)
With the cosy ethos of Hygge as our guide, we’re dedicated to creating experiences that surprise, scintillate and soothe: teas that, like the best songs, will become obsessions, urgent routines, and then trusted old friends. We want you to indulge in our wide variety of tastes, travelling the world with our eclectic mix of brews, but always feeling like you’re in the safety of home.
This week’s Hoogly recommendations are:
-Danish Pastry Rooibos: With the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon tinkling like piano keys over the powerful bassline taste of delicious pastry, this Danish delight will thrill and seduce tea lovers like a catchy chorus.
-Cosy Chamomile herbal infusion. This is a lullaby of a brew, perfect to snuggle up and unwind with, as the smooth chamomile is perfectly harmonised with rose hips, lemon verbena and lime leaves.
-Darjeeling Afternoon Black Tea. Discover the ancient melody of Himalayan Darjeeling, combined with Sri Lankan and Chinese black teas, to create the perfect pitch and tone, giving you a refreshing liquor of delicate complexity. This is the way tea was meant to be taken.
That’s all from us for now. Have a wonderful summer and don’t forget to give Hoogly a chance! It may well take your breath away!
Written by Chris Bedford