I originally wrote a version of this song in high school, when our drama club was putting together a variety-style show of songs, sketches and scenes around the title theme, “The Seven Deadly Sins”. I wrote one song each on the themes of pride and anger, but I never showed them to anyone that I can recall. For an 11th grader, they weren’t half bad—or at least “Pride” wasn’t. But I lacked the confidence to submit them for consideration for the show—at least in part because I didn’t have the skill to transcribe them to sheet music. (The passage of time and improvements in technology have alleviated that problem.)
When I joined Spiny Norman in 2000, I wanted to contribute some songs in addition to the ones written by my friend Arie Moller, who had started the group. I was frankly jealous, since he’d manage to crank out at least half dozen songs in what seemed like a pretty short time. So I started by looking at my own back catalog—I had written a few songs and poems over the years. Ultimately, I adapted the poems “Tenders of Affection” and “The Seed” to song form, and “Pride”, while a bit outside Arie’s wheelhouse (Jim Croce and Billy Joel influences show up strongly), seemed to be the closest thing to a previously written song that would work for the band. One problem was that I didn’t have the lyrics written down…but that was just as well, since I was a bit better writer in 2000 than I had been in the mid-80’s, so I used maybe half of the lyrics that I remembered, and wrote new material for the rest.
Pride (Goes Before a Fall)
© 2000 music & lyrics by Eric Schrager
I used to be rich and I used to be proud,
I used to be lazy and I used to be loud,
Now I find used-to-be’s don’t mean much anymore.
I used to keep four cars in my garage,
And relieve my tension with a daily massage,
But that’s small comfort now when my back’s stiff and sore.
And I learned in the end that you must pay the price,
And that there comes a time when you can’t load the dice,
And I’m wondering still if I’ve been through it all,
But my friend, let me tell you that pride goes before a fall.
I used to be dumb—oh, I was such a kid,
And I looked down on those who had less than I did,
I wonder what the friends I sneered at must think of me now.
I used to wear blinders so I wouldn’t see,
And I’d tell myself that nothing could happen to me,
But now I know I’m no holier than thou.
And I learned that you lie in the bed that you make,
And God, I discovered, is not on the take,
Can’t look down your nose with your back to the wall,
If I learned nothing else, I know pride goes before a fall.
It pains me to think of who I used to be,
A moron who thought that he had it all free,
I wish I could smack him around right now—what a punk!
I acted like I had a damn magic wand,
And I told everyone that my word was my bond,
But I crashed pretty hard when I found out that it was all junk!
And I learned that contempt doesn’t help you in court,
And if that’s all you’ve got, you should just sell it short,
Used to think I was big—Now I feel pretty small…
And I learned that you get what you’ve earned in the end,
When the shit hits the fan*, what you need is a friend,
If you strut once too often, you’ll learn how to crawl,
And I found out the hard way that pride goes before a fall.
* In the interest of being able to play the song before more mixed audiences, including my family, we recorded an alternate version of the song with this line changed to “When push comes to shove…”