He Touched the World on Its Wound
You could smell the talent on Kurt Cobain. He had this sort of elfin delivery, but it was not navel-gazing. He was jumping around and throwing himself into every number. He'd sort of hunch over his guitar like an evil little troll, but you heard this throaty power in his voice. At the end of the set, he tossed himself into the drums. It was one of maybe 15 performances I've seen where rock & roll is very, very good.
I bought Nevermind, and I thought, "This has really got it." Nirvana genuinely achieved dynamics. They took you down, they took you up, and when they pressed a certain button, they took you over. They rocked without rushing, and they managed melody without being insipid. It was emotional without sounding dated or corny or weak.
As for his legacy: He was Johnny B. Goode. He was the last example that I can think of within rock & roll where a poor kid with no family from a small, rural area affected a serious emotional explosion in a significant sector of world youth. It was not made in Hollywood. There were no chrome parts. It was very downhome at its root. Somebody who was nobody from nowhere reached out and touched the world. He may have touched it right on its wound. 2008