On this day 60 years ago, On the Road by Jack Kerouac was first published. Based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the U.S., it was the defining novel of the Beat Generation–a term that the author coined himself.

The 1957 novel reflected the background of improvisational jazz, poetry, and drug use, the writing style of which Kerouac called “Spontaneous Prose.” Often named one of the top 100 novels of the 20th century, it featured key figures in the counter-culture movement, like William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady, with Kerouac as the narrator—all with fictionalized names. The way the text was produced as a nonstop scroll was also unique.

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Typed out on tracing paper and taped together into a continuous scroll during April 1951, the 120-feet of text, with no paragraph breaks, has appeared on display in museums worldwide, including one in Lowell, Massachusetts, the city where Kerouac was born. The book was also made into a 2012 film, entitled “On the Road”.

So, here are the 10 jazziest quotes from the beat book of the century:

10) “Sure baby, mañana. It was always mañana. For the next few weeks that was all I heard––mañana a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.”

9) “Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.”

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8) “What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

7) “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

6) “I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

5) “I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night…”

4) “…because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars…”

3) “But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?”

2) “‘I just won’t sleep,’ I decided. There were so many other interesting things to do.”

1) “[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

Keep The Beat Going: Click To Share With Your Friends – OR, [icopyright_one_button_toolbar] (Photo by Tom Palumbo, CC)

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