World Party’s Karl Wallinger tells Graeme Thomson what kept him afloat after a devastating brain aneurysm. In 1997 World Party released a song called She’s the One. A simple, affecting piano ballad written by Karl Wallinger “in 10 minutes and recorded in about an hour”, it should have been a huge hit. And it was, but not until two years later, when an almost identical version became a number one for Robbie Williams.
“The song had a much better time than me, popping off to the Brits while I was at home eating crackers dipped in water,” says Wallinger, who on this warm August afternoon has swapped prison rations for shepherd’s pie in a private members’ club in Soho. “But it was lucky it was a hit. It saved my arse financially for a few years while I was holding on to the handrail thinking, 'What happened?’”