While they may not have been working together anymore, the Beatles still existed as a corporate entity and manager Allen Klein was still tasked with raising revenue on the group's behalf. The film Let It Be and its accompanying album were ready for release (indeed, Klein and the other Beatles had tried to stop Paul from issuing his album in advance of the group projects) and Klein saw yet one more way to squeeze some money out of the available material before the well dried up for good.
He allowed Capitol Records to take advantage of its new agreement to once again create an additional single and opted for The Long and Winding Road as the A-side. The irony of this choice is incredible, of course, as this track was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as Paul McCartney was concerned. He was outraged that producer Phil Spector had added a massive orchestra and choir to the basic track without his knowledge or permission and, when Paul attempted to have this slight addressed, nothing was done to appease him. He therefore refused to change the release date of his solo album and drew up his mock press release.
The single was released on May 11th, 1970, one week before the final album appeared in stores in America. Even though both songs are included on the Let It Be LP, the single still went to number one on the charts - the group's twentieth number one in the US in only six and a half years.
Though Harrison's bouncy tune For You Blue is the B-side, Billboard took the unusual step of listing the single as The Long and Winding Road/For You Blue on its chart as if it were a double A-sided record. Cash Box, however, listed the songs separately, with the A-side hitting number one and For You Blue peaking at number seventy-one, proof (as if any were needed) that far more people were buying the record for McCartney's glorious ballad.
In the many years since the end of the group's career, Capitol's releases have been largely in line with the official compilations, though there have been occasional deviations. I have tried to note as many of these as possible in my earlier entries regarding those collections. For now, this long and winding road detailing the American versions of the Beatles catalog has come to an end.