Why Cat Stevens refused to have his song “Père et fils” in “Moulin Rouge!”

Red Mill! features famous songs from the Beatles, Kiss, Madonna, Queen and many more. The film was originally slated to feature Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.” In an interview, Red Mill! director Baz Luhrmann explained why Stevens didn’t want his song in the film.

Cat Stevens | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Cat Stevens’ personal beliefs influenced her attitude towards the “Moulin Rouge!”

In a 2021 interview with cinema mixLuhrmann explained his initial vision for the opening scene of Red Mill! “We originally opened the musical with the Cat Stevens song, ‘Father and Son’, and it was a scene between a father and a Christian, and the father was a working man in England, and they argue … and we did a version of it and we actually shot a test with Ewan McGregor,” he said.

“And at the time, Cat Stevens, and I absolutely respect him, and I want to be clear that I in no way disrespected Cat Stevens’ decision, that Cat Stevens said, ‘Look, I read the script and like a Muslim they are not married and they are together and I cannot allow that,” Luhrmann added. For context, McGregor’s character and Nicole Kidman‘s character have sex outside of marriage.

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“Father and Son” was replaced by a song by David Bowie

Luhrmann revealed that he replaced “Father and Son” with another famous song. “And so we didn’t do that, and we went to this other ‘Nature Boy’ idea, actually,” the director revealed. The last film featured a rendition of David Bowie’s “Nature Boy.”

Luhrmann said Stevens regrets his decision. “We asked him if he had any regrets, and he said, ‘Yes, I was going to give ‘Father and Son’ to Red Mill! and I refused it,” Luhrmann noted. The director said Stevens gave him permission to release the footage from the “Father and Son” sequence on a Blu-ray version of Red Mill! one day.

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The way listeners in the UK reacted to 2 versions of Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son”

According to The Official Map Company, the original “Father and Son” was not recorded in the UK. Stevens released the song on the album Tea for the Tillerman. Tea for the Tillerman reached No. 20 in the UK, remaining on the chart for 31 weeks.

A version of “Father and Son” became a hit – but it wasn’t the original version. In the 2000s, Stevens released a rendition of “Father and Son” with Ronan Keating. According to The Official Map Company, this release reached No. 2 in the UK, remaining on the chart for 13 weeks. The tune appeared on Keating’s album 10 years of tubes. 10 years of tubes reached No. 1 during one of its 47 weeks on the chart.

‘Father and Son’ eventually became a hit – even though it didn’t appear in Red Mill!

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