Craig Finn was born in St. Elizabeth's Hospital, down the hill from Boston College. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Minneapolis. The move is often referenced in song ("when I hit the twin cities/ I didn't know that much about it/ I knew Mary Tyler Moore/ I knew Profane Existence" - Stevie Nix). Finn spent his formative years in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and attended the private Breck School. He grew up in a typical Midwestern Catholic home. His father was a CFO and his mother was a homemaker. 
Finn's parents encouraged him in his musical endeavors. Both parents saw Dylan during the singer's pre-electric period. Finn had an early fascination with hardcore, especially the burgeoning Minneapolis scene that included the Replacements. Finn's all-time favorite record is Let It Be by the Replacements.  Some of Finn's fondest memories are accompanying his dad to the local record store to purchase various hardcore 7 inch records.
Finn attended Boston College and majored in communications.  He graduated in 1993 and eventually went to work for American Express. Finn and then bassist Tad Kubler were in the seminal Minneapolis band "Lifter Puller", which achieved cult status realized by audience members arriving at shows with the band's initials tattooed on their fingers. The band broke up, and the married Finn moved to New York in the fall of 2000, where he became involved in music booking as a side line to his day job. During this period, he recorded two EP's with Mr. Projectile, under the name "The Brokerdealer".