This highly atmospheric song, based on acoustic instruments and on a misty, fairy inspiration, perfectly illustrates Steve Hackett's magical side. Like in an ancient and forgotten English garden, the listener follows a moisty path through the wild, guided by a far away lantern. There he'll find the hermit and, of course, Steve himself playing some folkish tune with his elven friends. The melancholic mood of the instrumental final section is so deeply heartbreaking and John Hackett's flute has such a mysterious call that I'm always compelled to start the song once again and enjoy its charms one more time.
The Hermit as seen on the album, drawn by Kim Poor.
IMHO, "The Hermit" is a perfect example of progressive ballad and somehow it announces the forthcoming "intermediate" Genesis era. And it also proves how much Steve influenced the band's musical choices in a trying passage of their career. When listening to this song, I finally see how precociously mature Steve's talent got...
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