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Moulin Rouge! features famous songs by The Beatles, Kiss, Madonna, Queen, and many others. The film was initially supposed to feature Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.” During an interview, Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann explained why Stevens didn’t want his song in the movie.

Cat Stevens wearing a white shirt
Cat Stevens | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Cat Stevens’ personal beliefs influenced his attitude toward ‘Moulin Rouge!’

During a 2021 interview with Cinema Blend, Luhrmann explained his initial vision for the opening scene of Moulin Rouge! “Originally, we opened the musical with the Cat Stevens song, ‘Father and Son,’ and it was a scene between a father and Christian, and the father was an industrious in England, and they’re having an argument … 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 crystal that I was not in any way disrespectful of Cat Stevens’ decision, that Cat Stevens said, ‘Look, I read the script and, as a Muslim, they’re not married, and they’re together, and I can’t allow that,'” Luhrmann added. For context, McGregor’s character and Nicole Kidman‘s character have sex outside of marriage. 

‘Father and Son’ was replaced by a David Bowie song

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

Luhrmann said Stevens regretted his decision. “He was asked if he had any regrets, and he said, ‘Yes, I was going to give ‘Father and Son’ to Moulin Rouge! and I declined it,'” Luhrmann noted. The director said Stevens gave him permission to release the footage of the “Father and Son” sequence on a Blu-ray release of Moulin Rouge! someday.


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The way listeners in the United Kingdom reacted to 2 versions of Cat Stevens’ ‘Father and Son’

According to The Official Charts Company, the original “Father and Son” did not chart in the United Kingdom. Stevens released the song on the album Tea for the Tillerman. Tea for the Tillerman reached No. 20 in the U.K., staying 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 Charts Company, this version reached No. 2 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 13 weeks. The tune appeared on Keating’s album 10 Years of Hits10 Years of Hits reached No. 1 for one of its 47 weeks on the chart.

“Father and Son” eventually became a hit — even if it didn’t appear in Moulin Rouge!