The Creek Drank the Cradle is the first full-length release from Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam). It was released on September 24, 2002. The vinyl LP release came with a bonus 7" vinyl single. The promo CD for this album was released in a cardboard sleeve with alternate artwork.
The sparse lo-fi sound of the album is attributed to Beam recording the tracks at home on a four-track recorder initially as demos. His intention was to pass these on to Joey Burns and John Convertino of the band Calexico who would provide a rhythm section on the finished piece. However the demos were released instead.
The Creek Drank the Cradle has received widespread critical acclaim positive since its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 87, based on 14 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".
Pitchfork Media placed The Creek Drank the Cradle at number 137 on their list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s.Allmusic called it "a stunning debut and one of the best records of 2002."