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Neil was born in Winnipeg, the biggest city for miles around but still something of a backwater in this endless expanse.

He left as soon as he could, heading for the coffeeshops of Yorkville, Toronto to ply his trade and eventually to California, where he has lived ever since.

I myself would like to claim West-Icelandic roots, and in some ways I can. His father was a journalist for Lögberg, which still exists as one half of Lögberg-Heimskringla, and is the only member of my family to hold that profession until I came along.

Perhaps he brought some prairie wind back with him after all.

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He came to Reykjavík for the first time last year, and inevitably the first question he was asked when he got off the plane was not “How do you like Iceland? But we must, for now, concede Neil Young to the Prairies.

A prairie wind blows both ways He returned to his roots, thematically at least, with the 2005 album ‘’, dedicated to his then-recently deceased father and inspired by his own brush with death after brain surgery.

But you can take the boy out of the prairie, not the prairie out of the boy, and in the same way that Bob Dylan has tried his best to forget Minnesota but never entirely been able too, there is always something of Manitoba in Neil Young.

We have tried to claim Neil Young as our own, an Icelandic skald in the New World, but without much luck. We have tried to claim other Manitobans such as Lyle Lovett, especially at around the time when he was dating Julia Roberts, but the only one of the greats who is reliably of Icelandic linage is Guy Maddin, one of the best film directors here or anywhere.

So Iceland (and inevitably Airwaves) became something to look forward to, to put mental energy towards, and I did research with the loving attention one might spend cultivating a budding relationship. See, I’m one of those Western Icelanders whose great great grandparents got nervous about an erupting volcano back in the day and somehow managed to find themselves in Manitoba—the greatest Icelandic outpost on the Canadian prairies.

Perhaps, then, it isn’t so strange that my first impression while driving a rental car from the airport to the capital was that there was something vaguely familiar about it all.

In dramatics that could rival a Woody Allen film, tickets were purchased in April with the intention of having a “lover’s vacation.” The premises for such a vacation spectacularly fell apart in the seven months leading up to the party.

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