Independent Logo   THIS CULTURAL LIFE: RONNIE WOOD - I know it's only Rubens 'n' Goya
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What are you reading in bed at the moment?

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog by Dylan Thomas. I haven't got far with it but it's great.

Do you buy books with all good intentions and then never get round to reading them?

I never get round to reading much at all. But being an artist as much as a musician, I get as much from reading into the paintings themselves as I do from the history of art.

Your favourite painter?

I have many. I love Goya, Rembrandt, Picasso...

Why do you like Goya?

I like his expressiveness and his darkness. Rembrandt's too. And the grandeur of Rubens. I love the Prado in Madrid. It's got lots of my favourite paintings in there. As you do with music, I like to take a little out of everyone's book and combine it - done that ever since I was a little kid, with both music and art. And that's how you shape your own legend... or whatever it's called.

If you hadn't done music, would you have had an artistic career?

Oh yeah. I've painted as long as I've played. Whether it's drums, guitar, piano, pedal-steel, harmonica, whatever it might be - bass! - I'm passionate about all the different instruments, like I'm passionate about all the different mediums, whether it's watercolour, charcoal, oils, acrylics, silkscreen, linocut, monotypes, scraperboard... But my favourite is oils. Been doing a South Bank Show with Melvin Bragg on both the things I do. It's interesting the relationship between painting and music - it's all about layers and details...

Yet when I think about your art, I think about something that's very meticulous, even fastidious. Compare that to The Faces, though - I mean, they were completely loose...

Oh, The Faces were fantastically loose. Since I've joined the Stones I've realised what professional is. They have stuff like a set list. But with The Faces, on stage it was like, "what number we doin' next?" "Oh I dunno. Let's ask the audience! What do you wanna hear?" I loved the difference between that looseness and the tightness of the Stones. Not that the Stones're too polished - I've never believed that you can polish a turd.

Presumably Keith wouldn't have it if it was all too polished...

Oh no. But we do like to keep the arrangements to the best they can be - the tempos and that. With The Faces in the early '70s, though, we'd just go "give us an E on the piano..." Like, dong! And off we'd go, even though the piano at the venue might be slightly out of tune. Mac [Ian MacLagan, keyboards] used to carry an axe around with him and if the piano wasn't the Steinway required in the contract, he would hack it to pieces to teach the promoter a lesson. But anyway, we'd get our E and take pot luck from there: eyes down and meet you at the end! Some groups are a little bit too precise but The Faces went the other way. Ha-hah! As Ronnie Lane used to say, there's a difference between scratching your arse and tearing it to pieces.

Do you feel they never fulfilled their potential?

Yes. They never did. We were always a bit too loose. And when Rod [Stewart] had his solo success there was a little bit of resentment that came in like a cancer. We'd sometimes get to gigs in America and the marquee would say "Tonight: Rod Stewart!", which kinda hurt the boys...

Your house is on fire and you have time to save one object from the flames...

Well, I'd go for my 1955 Stratocaster and my paintings. And the animals. This happened to me once in a hotel in LA, when the whole canyon caught fire. But luckily I didn't have any animals with me at the time.

The bad news is that you die in the fire and go to heaven. Who would you like to meet in the bar, and what question would you ask him or her?

Ronnie Lane. And I'd say, where's that fucking fiver you owe me?

Is there anything you cling onto from childhood?

Yeah. Childishness itself. I still snigger like a schoolboy in bed. When I'm all comfy and it's cold outside and I'm warm under the blankets, I always go back to when I was a child. I had this little prayer: "I try to be good like I know that I should/ That's my prayer at the end of the day."

Were you a happy kid?

Yeah, very happy.

The Faces' retrospective box-set `Five Guys Walk into a Bar' is released tomorrow on Warner Bros

Copyright 2004 Independent Newspapers UK Limited
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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Ronnie Wood Age 13
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