Music Man Murray Celebrates 90 Years With A New Documentary

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Happy birthday to Music Man Murray! The record store owner-turned actor turns 90 tomorrow. In 2007, Los Angeles magazine profiled Murray and his mission to find a new home for his epic collection of more than 300,000 records collected over half a century. Filmmaker Richard Parks followed Murray around his Exposition Boulevard storefront and collected more stories in a new documentary film about the colorful music lover now airing on the Documentary Channel. It’s a poetic and poignant visit to the squeaky and creaky store pondering the fate of a life’s work. Murray sniffs during an opera, tries to warble in a falsetto and gives advice to the hardcore DJs that sniff out his hidden shop. Murray’s son Irv reflects on the voices and personalities trapped in the wax. “For a moment, that man’s alive.” He said. “We’re able to see and hear and feel him.” The film itself is scored by Van Dyke Parks, the filmmaker’s father best known for his psychedelic collaborations with the Beach Boys and The Byrds. Today, Murray is pursuing his acting career with recent appearances on Mad Men and House. “I still try to take care of this place, but my head is in my next gig.” The warm glow of the long halls stuffed with treasures is alluring and the duality of preservation and mortality is haunting. Murray answers regular inquiries about the collection, even if his response is lukewarm. He seems to sum it up when he sings a hit from the depression era: “Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime; Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?”

 

Photography by Marla Rutheford