"Show Me How to Live" has a relatively fast tempo. The song contains heavy guitar and drum riffs and a solo broken up with a phasing, fluttering effect by Tom Morello, achieved by using a combination of tremolo picking the high E-string, using his trademark Dunlop Crybabywah pedal and a ring modulator effect.(B) Singer Chris Cornell also uses an interesting technique near the end of the song, when he changes pitch multiple times to produce an unusual effect. He achieves this by simply hitting his throat with the side of his hand and changing the pitch of his voice.
The music video for the song had the band involved in several car chases with police officers. The video also shows clips of the band playing in front of an audience in between car chase scenes. There are also clips of a radio DJ (played by Cleavon Little) singing and dancing to the song. The band crashes into a road block set up by police and explodes at the end of the video. The car in the video, driven by the lead singer Chris Cornell, is a replica of the 1970 Dodge Challenger from the film Vanishing Point (the video itself is actually clips from that movie cut together with shots of the band driving the Challenger). Two cars were used during the filming of the video, one of which was given away in a contest put on by the band. Cornell and the band's drummer, Brad Wilk, autographed the inside of the trunk of this car.
The video was filmed in Los Angeles, California, and was produced by Allan Wachs and directed by AV Club.