Music / Poets and Madmen

Do ghosts cry tears
Do they feel years
As time just goes on and on and on

Poets and Madmen is a 2001 album by Savatage, and the final album before their hiatus.

It is a Concept Album that features a back story but no actual narrative. Three teenagers—Daryl, Joey, and Tommy—go to explore an abandoned mental hospital, discovering that one of the patients remains. The man steals Daryl's jacket and bolts for a room where he bars the door, when the boys catch up they find that he left the jacket, along with the car keys, outside and only took a single cigarette. Daryl slides his lighter under the door and the man accepts it, then slides it back. While he smokes in peace they dig through the old files, learning that the man was a famous photographer who abandoned his lover and career because of the horrors he saw.

The boys leave him alone in the hospital. In time, Daryl hears that Carter had committed suicide, and he returns to the hospital annually to leave a cigarette in tribute.

Poets and Madmen marks Jon Oliva's return as the lead singer of Savatage since Streets: A Rock Opera a decade before.


  1. "Stay with Me Awhile" (5:06)
  2. "There in the Silence" (4:57)
  3. "Commissar" (5:36)
  4. "I Seek Power" (6:03)
  5. "Drive" (3:17)
  6. "Morphine Child" (10:12)
  7. "The Rumor" (5:16)
  8. "Man in the Mirror" (5:56)
  9. "Surrender" (6:40)
  10. "Awaken" (3:23)
  11. "Back to a Reason" (6:10)

This album provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The setting is an abandoned mental hospital, far away enough from the city to avoid vandalism.
  • All There in the Manual: The story behind the album is found in the song booklet, it is also available on Savatage's website.
  • Concept Album: The album is about madness, drugs, and the horrors of man, inspired by the life of Kevin Carter.
  • Crapsack World: Carter witnesses war and in famine during his career, the weight of this horror is what drives him to despair.
  • Driven to Suicide: A failed attempt is why Carter is sent to the hospital. He later succeeds.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Carter turns to drink to cope with his pain, then to increasingly hard drugs. It doesn't help.
  • Jerk Ass: Joey is pushy, willing to attack Carter if he hadn't locked them out, and judgmental—declaring Carter an idiot who deserves his fate when they believe his breakdown was over a girl. He is the last of the teens to be moved by Carter's legacy when they learn the truth.
  • Epic Rocking: "Back to a Reason" starts slow and generally maintains that pace. However, it switches pace, tone, and theme frequently.
  • Libation for the Dead: A cigarette, actually. Daryl leaves a pack of cigarettes at Carter's door after he hears about the photographer's suicide, he returns the next year to find the package undisturbed save for one missing cigarette. It becomes an annual tradition, replacing the previous, one-short pack with a new one.
  • Post-Historical Trauma: Carter was a photographer in many of the world's hotspots—like collapsing Soviet-backed African regimes, and civil war and famine-wracked Sudan—and was unable to distance himself from what he saw and photographed. He's tormented by knowing that so much evil exists in the world and that he's powerless to stop it.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The album's concept is a fictitious account about photographer Kevin Carter. In particular, it recounts the story of his Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a small girl dying of malnutrition while a vulture looks on.