I heard this song on the radio today (the classical station in Portland plays a pretty good variety) and it sounded incredibly familiar. The problem is, Stephen Foster’s music is so evergreen and so well-known throughout the English speaking world that I can’t place when or where I’d heard it before. I don’t think I’ve heard it in this life but I could be wrong. But even if I hadn’t, it could pretty much have been any life in the last 150 years.
Music like this isn’t so much a sign post as a layer of continuity, I think. Music that has been preserved and is still performed with reasonable frequency is a great way to stay connected to the past.