The Civil Rights activist John Lewis once called getting arrested for protesting or marching “good trouble.” The LA-based producer and songwriter DJ Trotsky believes good trouble to be as American as apple pie. Yet, in this time of deep racial and cultural upheaval, serving up your own slice of social action can be daunting. “It’s overwhelming,” Trotsky affirms. “What helps me is thinking of the Zen parable that basically says: ‘I can’t do everything, but I can do anything.’”
What Trotsky has done is create an inspiring music video for his political rock anthem, “Something/Anything.” The song has a heartland pop-rock appeal, like fist-pumping Americana as done by Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, and Tom Petty. The track was initially released on DJ Trotsky - Rock Songs - Part 1, and it showcases Trotsky’s creative breadth beyond his electro and pop artistic output. The newly released “Something/Anything” video features imaginatively sequenced, era-defining historical footage of protests.
“The news can be depressing and we can feel hopeless. We can forget that breakthroughs in Civil Rights, LGBTQIA Rights, and Women’s Rights came from things we fought for—my goal for this video is to be motivating and inspiring,” Trotsky says.
“Something/Anything” was written before Obama’s first presidency, and recorded multiple times in a variety of musical settings. While mired in the pandemic and witnessing the powerful Black Lives Matter movement, Trotsky had an epiphany that spurred him to produce and direct this video. “I realized this song was about now, and I didn’t want to do a CNN montage of current events. I wanted to show how much protests are an important part of the political system and history, and how they’ve really helped us as a society move forward,” Trotsky says.
For the “Something/Anything” video, Trotsky carefully created rhyming montages and thematic motifs so the song’s storyline is loosely mirrored by the visuals. The anthemic image from the 1968 Olympics where gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos raised the Black Power salute is bookended by an image of football Colin Kaepernick kneeling. The song’s character Bobby rides a bus to DC and lands in jail where he meets his future wife, Jill, who pays his bail. This salutes South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn who actually met his wife in jail after a Civil Rights protest. The storybook Brenda and Darrell romance holds an air of Civil Rights majesty, commemorating the legacy of an icon such as John Lewis who nearly died on the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” Pettus Bridge protest.
The “Something/Anything” video also features a tribute to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire which brought forth anti-sweatshop legislation; stirring photos of Martin Luther King Jr.; powerful Kent State shooting pictures; charred moments from the 1992 LA Riots over the Rodney King verdict; arrest snapshots of Jane Fonda, Bernie Sanders, and images from the more recent Black Lives Matter movement. The video concludes with the words: “Love one another.”
Trotsky experienced a formative moment in political action while in high school, working in DC. That time didn’t entice him to go into politics, but it instilled in him a “power to the people” respect for affecting change. “The message with this song and video is: really simple actions like tweeting, registering to vote, or even hosting a potluck can make a difference,” Trotsky says.